Getting Used to Contact Lenses

My eyesight is very poor, to put it mildly. (I cannot see the big E at the very top.) Over the years, I’ve been to many eye doctors and eyeglasses makers, in both Thailand and the US, and it’s next to impossible to get a good prescription or have a pair of glasses made correctly the first time. Especially in Thailand, which is a great place to make glasses if you don’t have a problem prescription but can be pretty bad if you do. I’ve worn the same pair of glasses for nine years now, because it’s the last pair that was any good. When the glasses don’t come out right, the doctors and glasses shops blame each other. I’ve had glasses shops actually become angry with me when I insisted I could not see out of their glasses, and even one doctor – at Bumrungrad Hospital, supposedly the top facility in Thailand, plus this man is still today considered the top eye doctor in Thailand – angrily told me the prescription he gave me was correct and would not even look at my eyes again. Dickhead.

So I’ve been making due with these glasses, which are still good but getting old and scratched, both lenses and frames alike, and shops don’t even like to adjust them anymore for fear the parts will break (even though the frame’s titanium). I tried contact lenses in high school in West Texas 40 years ago, but back then I don’t think there were any soft lenses, and what I had were hard lenses, and they were hell, especially in the blowing dust of West Texas. Even after soft lenses came out, I was told I was not a good candidate for them. After laser surgery came out, I was told the shape of my eyeballs made me a poor candidate for laser surgery.

I tried another eye doctor recently at another Western-style hospital (not Bumrungrad, which I despise now, for the reason mentioned above and other reasons). He actually understood my tale of trouble with glasses. Said based on my eyeballs, astigmatism etc, he could understand that if the lens was off by even a millimeter, I was not going to see properly. He also has office hours at Chulalongkorn Hospital, the big teaching hospital here – most if not all of the doctors in the Western-style hospitals will usually keep some sort of hours at Chula too – and he had me go see him there, because there’s a new machine available, for now, only there that could measure my eyeballs more precisely. Then he sent me to a contact-lens specialist, who told me that advances have been made in soft lenses and prescribed me some. Also gave me a new prescription for regular glasses.

A shop in the mall near where we live turns out to be pretty good and has almost made me a decent pair of glasses (still some minor problems with them). And I got my contact lenses there. But now I’m having hell getting used to putting them in. Plus I also need reading glasses when I wear the contacts if I want to read anything. I’m trying to get used to this, especially putting in the lenses, which I’m not having much luck with. Takes me maybe a half-hour, but I just started in the past week. And they still feel odd. I suffer from dry eyes and do use liquid tears but not as often as I should (have to get better about that).

Both these new doctors say I’m still a poor candidate for surgery.

So are there tips for getting used to contacts, putting them in etc? Anyone else with eyesight similar to mine who has some wisdom to impart?

You’ll get used to putting them in. It just takes some repetition. It took me like an hour the first time I tried, but now it’s almost alarming how comfortable I am touching my eyeball.

I don’t know what you mean by “odd” though. If you mean just a vague awareness that they’re there, you get used to that. But if they are uncomfortable, you should try a different brand. I also have dry eyes and I can only wear Acuvue Oasys.

Am I the only one who read the thread title as “Getting used contact lenses?” I mean I’ve known some cheap people…

Yeah, it took quite a while–more than an hour–the first few times to get my contact lenses in on my own. (I was 18 and had just started university.) But you do get used to it. Now I can do it in fine minutes or even less.

In those days I had to put the lenses in a separate cleaning solution that would dissolve protein (?) deposits off them overnight, then rinse very well before inserting them. Now there’s an all-in-one solution that I keep them in and rinse them with.

The lenses have changed as well; at first I had one pair that had to be removed and rinsed overnight every night, and I wore them for years. Now I get them in sets of twelve pairs, and I use each pair for a couple of months before discarding them. They don’t have as much time to build up crud. There are lenses that you can wear for months at a time, even while asleep; they may be thinner than mine. (I believe the limiting factor is oxygen diffusion to the cornea; thicker high-prescription lenses like mine don’t allow as much oxygen to pass through and must be removed to allow the corneas to get oxygen.)

Keys: make sure the lenses are good and wet. Even though you just took them out of the little container, squirt the solution on them so that they drip.

Make sure there are no tiny spaces of dust or hair on the lenses or on your fingers. If they get in your eye, these will feel like sand in your eyes, or hurt extremely, or both.

It may take a few minutes for the lenses to seat themselves; they suddenly go from feeling quite obtrusive to feeling like they’re not there.

If you need to moisten your eyes, use eye drops or solution that is specifically made to work with contact lenses. I have some Visine Contact Lens that I use when my eyes are dry.

Additionally, I notice sometimes a slight momentary disorientation when going between my glasses and my lenses. It goes away. I suspect this is because my glasses have that curving distortion in the corners, and my contact lenses don’t, and on switching my vision has to recompensate.

Incidentally, I remember the first time I had my lenses on in the shop. (Actually, the fitter put them in. my practice time was a little later in the appointment.) Suddenly I had incredible vision, details, a seamless field of vision extending in every direction. It was stunning, like the first time I’d seen a widescreen high-definition multi-channel movie after growing up with a small fuzzy TV set.

Took me about an hour to get them in the first day, maybe a half hour or so the second day and so on. After a week I was down to a couple of minutes. At this point (18 years later) I can get them both in or out in a matter of seconds with no need for a mirror.
Also, yes, after an hour of working at it, the skin around your eye will be pretty red and irritated from holding your eye open.

As for getting used to them, IIRC that took about 2 weeks to a month. The first couple of days you’ll be very aware that there’s something in your eye. You’ll feel like if you blink hard enough or look all the way up or to the side you could make it fall out (and you might actually be able too). By the time you get to the week mark you should be at the point where it’s there, it’s not uncomfortable, but if you think about it you can feel it. After a month or so (assuming things are going well), once it’s in your eye and settled down for a minute or so, it’ll just kinda disappear* and you won’t even know it’s there. In fact, you’ll get so used to having it in and with a good set of comfortable lenses, and you’ll get so good at touching your eye at least once a year you’ll try to get it out like three or four times only to realize you already took that one out and you’re actually grasping your eyeball.

Anyways. I usually tell people to wear them for a month before you give up on it. And that’s wearing them all day. Not wearing them for 2 hours, taking them out and trying again the next day, 3 times a week for 4 weeks. I mean, once you get ramped up to 12-17+ hours a day for a month, if they’re still uncomfortable and you’ve tried more then one brand, then maybe they’re not for you.

*You’ll still have offdays where they bug you and you can’t wait to get home to take them out. Sometimes there just ‘bad contact days’ but most of us that have been wearing them for long enough to ignore the 2/4 week thing know that when you have 3 or 4 off days in a row, that’s when you swap them for a new pair.
Also, regarding the 40 years ago comment. A lot has changed since then. I recently switched to a new brand and asked my doc about going back to Acuvue 2’s. She looked at me like I was nuts. I told her how much I loved them when I first started wearing contacts (18 years ago) and she said “That’s 20 year old technology, there’s much better lenses out now”

It sounds like you’re wearing toric lenses. If you have dry-eye (I do, too, and don’t bother with contacts any more because even the ones meant for sleeping in for 30 days are too hard on me for more than 8 hours) they might not rotate into position like they should. The toric lenses are weighted, and thicker on the bottom than on the top, meant to keep their position for correcting your astigmatism. On me, they didn’t always reposition properly because of the dry-eye, so I was always careful to look for that little line on the lens that indicates the “bottom” and made sure to insert the lenses close to the correct position or they would take a while to do it on their own.

Another thing is to make sure they’re not inside-out. Soft lenses are easy to flip and you need to make sure when you’re cleaning them that you’re not flipping them and then trying to insert them backwards. For some people they just don’t stay on the eye, for me they would and then were just really uncomfortable until I realized I was sometimes flipping them inside out and it took a while to recognize that and correct the mistake when it happened, rather than going half a day being uncomfortable.

As for your glasses, do you have any online services available? I discovered Zenni Optical from a couple threads here, and ordered three pairs of glasses, 2 regular and 1 sunglasses for $75 total for all three. I have astigmatism and a fair amount of correction for both eyes (something like -5 and -3.5 IIRC) and all three pairs are perfect. Is it the correction or the fit you’re having trouble with? Zenni has a face picture uploader you really need to use, and you need to know your pupillary distance. With those, the website will list frames that should fit your face with the proper PD and you can see what the frames will look like on your face. I just emailed the .pdf of my Rx and had the glasses in 2 weeks.

My story, in several parts (hopefully the OP can take something from this).

I needed glasses from the age of 7. By that point my eyesight was poor enough (and given my predilection for reading) that I was given the choice of bifocals. I didn’t understand the choice—in my mind the choice was between contacts and glasses—and I chose bifocals. At 7. [Early 80s, for timeframe]

Growing up I would ask about contacts every few years, always to be told that I was a poor candidate for them. My prescription became progressively worse through my teenage years, until I ended up at -8.00 diopters with significant astigmatism. Throughout high school, my glasses were very much of the Birth Control type.

By college advances in technology made my glasses less obtrusive, but no less inconvenient. Shortly after college, my optometrist recommended contacts, as their technology had advanced enough to make them practicable/less dangerous for me. My left lens was a toric (weighted and shaped) for the astigmatism, while the right was ‘normal’ because the astigmatism wasn’t as bad in that eye. My eyes are very sensitive, so I had highly oxygen-permeable lenses—more expensive but longer wearing (three months for the toric and one month for the standard) [2000, for timeframe]

The first week was very difficult. Two hours at a time, then four. Then eight. I made the mistake once of wearing the contacts for a few hours, taking them out when my eyes got tired, and putting them back in hours later when my eyes felt “rested”. One of the most notoriously cold supervisors at the call center I worked in was moved to ask me (with serious compassion) if I was okay—I looked like I was grieving a parent’s death, my eyes were so bloodshot and I was tearing so badly.)

Three or four years of use, and contacts were wonderful. My field of vision was greatly expanded. I could go swimming and still see. Etc. Still, I was never one who could leave contacts in indefinitely. My ex could wear contacts for days. I have a couple of friends who wear contacts for months, to the point that the lenses will fall apart when extracted and my friends will literally have to peel fragments of contact off of their eyeballs. Not me. Contacts had to be out at night. On occasions when I didn’t take my contacts out over night, I was consigned to glasses the next day.

Somewhere along the line I developed a tendency towards conjunctivitis (pink eye), especially in my left (toric lens) eye. No matter how many contact cases I went through or how quickly I disposed of the contaminated lens, I seemed to contract it every six months or so. Finally I gave up, and went back to glasses full time.

Two and a half years ago I had Lasik. It wasn’t perfect. I was dissatisfied enough with the first round that I went back for a “touch up” a year later. It’s still not perfect, as I still have some astigmatism in my right eye. But it’s good enough that it’s tipped the “risk/reward” scale to the “I’m good” marker. I’ve damned near become an evangelist for Lasik. Most of my friends wear glasses (and I never minded wearing glasses) but this is so much better.

Pro: either on or off. Don’t irritate the eyeball. Well tracked (minus the once- or twice-yearly hunt to find them when you fall asleep in an unusual situation). Cheaper than contacts (a really good pair costs hundreds of dollars, but lasts for years if not a decade)
Con: Expensive and all cost up front. Scratches and pits have to be lived with, and become part of your vision. They become your priority focus—they are the last thing you take off and the first thing you put on, and god damn those once or twice a year episodes when you misplace them. Crawling on your hands and knees all over the house, afraid to death of stepping on the $500 implement you absolutely must have to function.

Pro: You probably look better. Sure glasses can be sexy, but they distort your eyes. Most people want to see those beautiful browns/baby blues. A significantly wider field of vision, without peripheral distortion. Swimming? Showering with your lover? Walking in the rain while still able to see? Contacts all the way.
Con: Expensive! Especially if you have a significant prescription. While spread out into $70 and $100 increments here and there, contacts cost significantly more than glasses. They take a while to get used to, and some people are never able to. You have to carry a kit with you. Eye drops, case, solution. Maybe even your glasses. Some events may have you wanting to change out of your contacts for the day (dust, wind, sand, etc). You can carry a contact travel bag and your glasses, or you can just wear your glasses in the first place…

Pro: Glasses? Contacts? What? I’m camping, trout fishing, and passing out drunk in a camp chair. “Me worry?”
Con: Tiny but real risk of side-effects/botches. Results not guaranteed. 40 seconds or so smelling your eyeball burning.

My eyes were always “the wrong shape” for contacts. And for years I was told I was either a poor candidate for Lasik or completely outside the acceptable parameters. OP, ask your eye doctor what makes your eyes outside the range. My latest optometrist said “Lasik may have advanced enough you could inquire about it.” My surgeon said “Oh my God! Your corneas are so thick! I could operate on you 10 times and you’d still have enough to donate to some poor soul! Why didn’t you have this done 10 years ago?”

To answer your question directly:
Highly permeable lenses.
Saturate that shit in solution.
Make certain that your hands are as clean as can be, and free of any soap or scents.
Be very certain the lens isn’t backwards (it can actually be hard to tell at times).
Use re-wetting drops liberally.
Always carry your glasses, a contact case, and solution with you. You may have to change out at a moments notice, and nothing sucks more than being blind and in pain/discomfort when something goes wrong with your contacts.

Thanks all. I plan to stick with the contacts for at least three months, as I go back to see the eye doctor in March. I may be too busy right through New Year’s to fool with them like I should, but then every day definitely won’t be a problem.

I don’t think my lenses are toric. They’re not weighted, and any way they go in seems to be okay. I’m using Bausch & Lomb. One-day lenses. The doctor said once I’m used to them, I can go to two-week and then monthly.

My correction is 9-point-something, close to 10. I just don’t feel comfortable shopping for glasses online.

Confirmed glasses wearer here. I tried soft contacts-I never could get used to them. My “blink” reflex is just too strong!:eek:

I tried the soft contacts for astigmatism in 2000 when they were brand new and only one brand was available. They didn’t work for me so I gave up.

I tried again in 2008, now with multiple brands available, and the first one I tried works just fine. So yes, there have been lots of advances made recently.

I’ve got dry eyes and contacts never quite worked for me. I’ve decided to make glasses part of my trademark “look”. :slight_smile:

I’ve needed corrective lenses since age 14. I didn’t need to wear them all the time at first. Until age 18-19 I only needed them for distance (seeing the chalk board, driving, etc). Not long after I had to start wearing them all the time I decided to get contacts. I wore contacts full time for several years, and then only for social occasions, and then developed dry eye and can’t wear them at all.

I found that it took a few weeks to get to the point where they were comfortable, and after that I couldn’t feel them at all unless they were dry.

Two things helped a lot for me.

  1. I used drops quite a lot, whenever they’d feel dry or irritating.

  2. I learned to put the lenses on by pulling down my lower lid and placing the lens below my iris, then gently put the lid over the lens and close my eyes. A couple of blinks and the lens would be perfectly seated. (fill the lens completely with drops before putting it in - that helps too). Take the lens out by placing your forefinger on the lens, sliding it gently down below your iris and THEN pinch it out of your eye. Bottom line - try not putting the lens directly on your pupil, or trying to remove it while it’s over your pupil. See if that helps.

I have the daily disposable lenses and love them! Put a new pair in each morning and toss the old pair. I hated the buildup on the other contacts I have had in the past.

As for the reading glasses, well my contacts are set up that my left eye I see up close and the right eye I see far away. I know it sounds like you would never get used to it but I swear within nanoseconds I was fine with it. So when I look far away the right eye just takes over and I see, and then I look at my screen here as I am typing and my left eye takes over. If I close my left eye as I type here, things are blurry, and vice versa looking far away. But I swear it works great. I tried using mono lenses but I HATED the reader glasses and since 99% of my time is looking at up close things like computer screens it would have meant reading glasses all the time. I lasted a week with those but have done these split lenses for well over 2 years now. You do have to remember to blink or add eye drops, especially if you look at something like a screen all day.

As or getting used to them, I started years ago so don’t remember. But my daughter just got them about 2 years ago and it took her a week or two of practice and now she is a pro at it!

good luck

Thanks again. I’ve been wearing glasses for amost 50 years, ever since first grade. I can’t even remember a time when I was not wearing glasses, except for that brief excursion into contacts in high school. And I’ve always been a bit dorky-looking at best, with or without glasses, so the look never bothered me. Wearing glasses has always felt as natural as wearing my skin.

These new glasses I’ve got are proving a little difficult, but I see what the problem is. Can see medium and long distances with them but not near. Those nine-year-old glasses somehow enabled me to see all distances.

But the doctor recommended contacts because of my perennial problem with glasses. The wife and I will be traveling upcountry over the New Year’s holiday, and I’m not sure how convenient fooling with them will be. If I can cut down the time I take to put them in to 15 or 20 minutes, then I’ll take them with me. Otherwise I plan to get serious as soon as we get back and I’m settled back in next week.

EDIT: I think I’m going to talk to the doctor about bifocals too when I see him again in March. I’ve been hesitant, because I know some people never get used to them, but the wife uses them and likes them just fine. Since I’m always having to look at something super-close by staring over the rim of the glasses, I guess that’s de-facto bifocals right there! But hopefully I’ll be happy with the contacts by then too.

Update: It took me 45 minutes to get them in just now. This represents something of an improvement.

Unfortunately, they may have folded back and forth a couple of times, and I can’t be sure they’re in the correct way. Both sides look the same to me. :frowning:

Put it on your finger tip and hold it up to the light as you look around the edge. Most contacts have writing on the edge. “123” or “ABC” or “CIBA”(a brand name). If you can read it correctly from the outside, it’s in the correct orientation.

I’ll bet I can find a picture.
ETA, it’ll look something like this but on some lenses it’s pretty small and hard to find.

Also, with some lenses, if they get inverted, they’ll be shaped a bit wrong. But I’ve found that with some of the really soft lenses, going based on shape or even how they feel in your eye doesn’t always work. I’ve managed to wear contacts inside out for the better part of a day before I finally decide that something might be wrong.

Thanks. I suspect one may be in backward now, but I’m not going to take it out and look. Will check tomorrow.

I’m really curious how the 45 minutes you need breaks down. What exactly is it that you’re doing? In any case, if it involves multiple failed attempts at putting in/ falling out etc, please make sure your hands are absolutely clean at all times. If you even touch another object, put the lens back into the container and wash your hands again. Maybe give your eye a couple of minutes rest and re-moisturize with natural tears or something. (OK, I’m starting to see how the minutes could add up…)

Not putting them on your iris directly helps, too, as suggested above. To then help them slide into position, it helps to look into the blur.
As to lenses being in back to front, if you suspect you have one the wrong way in, please don’t leave it till tomorrow. One, it is more tiring on the eye (ETA: and really irritating), and two it will be more prone to dropping out. There are probably other, more serious reasons why you shouldn’t do this.

An easy way to find out if it is the right way round or not (the image** Joey P** linked to is correct but it’s usually not very easy to tell just by holding it up and looking at it), is to place the lens in the crease in your palm beneath your pinky finger and then slowly starting to bring the finger inwards (as if to beckon). This will cause the lens to fold, and the effect depicted in the linked image will be more pronounced. The lens will need to be hydrated for this, and sometimes it gets “stubborn” - at least that how it seems to me - and will appear to be inside out no matter which way I turn it for a few tries.

Good luck!

Yes, the minutes really add up before you know it when you’re doing all of that. Tuesday night now, and I’ll try again tomorrow morning to shave some off my time.

As for other brands, I stopped by the glasses shop today to pick up an extra two-week supply of the daily lenses and asked about that. It turns out the doctor has prescribed 8.6mm thickness, and here in Thailand only Bausch & Lomb handles that.