Contact Lens Wearing Guide

The following are reminders of points that you should already know but might give a few helpful hints on wearing your lenses and their proper maintenance.

Lens handling video courtesy Alcon (formerly CibaVision).

Wearing Schedule

  • Keep to your recommended wearing schedule.
  • If possible, you should be wearing your lenses 8-10 hours a day by the time of your first aftercare check-up.
  • But remember, you can progress as steadily as you like. The wearing schedule is a maximum and not a target.
  • Please do not change solutions without consulting your practitioner first. Be very careful with ‘own-label’ and supermarket varieties because the names are sometimes very confusing.

Handling Your Lenses

  • Always wash your hands before inserting and removing lenses, especially if they have been in contact with any chemicals.
  • Handle lenses in a well lit area with a mirror and have your spectacles nearby.
  • Particularly with hard lenses, ensure that the plug is placed in the sink (elementary precaution!).
  • Follow a routine and always deal with the same lens first. Handle only one lens at a time to avoid mixing them up.
  • Be careful to avoid putting two lenses in the same side of the case. If soft lenses stick together they are often impossible to separate.
  • If soft lenses dry out they are not necessarily spoiled – but be careful because they will be very brittle. Carefully soak them in saline and then sterilise in your usual solutions.
correct-way inside-out
Correct way round Inside out

Cleaning and Sterilising Your Lenses

Remember, cleaning and sterilising are not the same and to be safe you must carry out both procedures.

Cleaning is usually by gentle rubbing with the fingers to remove deposits. Sterilising ensures the lenses are safe to wear the next day and avoids the risk of eye infection.

The only lenses which do not require cleaning and sterilising are daily disposables.

  • Clean and store the lenses with your recommended solutions and follow the procedures advised. Further instructions will be found with your starter pack and with refills.
  • Never use soft lens solutions for hard lenses or vice versa.
  • Clean your lenses daily after removal from the eye. This is much more efficient than before insertion.
  • You must always use fresh solutions each time.
  • Clean the lens case once a week with boiled water and dry with a clean tissue. Do not use detergents.
  • Replace the lens case at regular intervals. Many solutions now come with a new case included.
  • Always carry your lens case with fresh solution.
  • Always be quite sure of the of the solutions you are using. Jot the names down in your diary to avoid any chance of mistake.
  • Do NOT change solutions without first checking with your practitioner.
  • NEVER use tap water with soft lenses.

If Your Eyes Feel Dry

Don’t forget that anything that makes the eyes dry may make the lenses temporarily less comfortable e.g. air conditioning, central heating, using VDU screens and some drugs (like antihistamines, HRT and alcohol).

  • During lens wear ‘comfort drops’ may be used to lubricate dry eyes but they must be specially formulated for your type of lens. Do not use ordinary eye drops because they contain the wrong type of preservative chemicals.
  • When travelling or sunbathing be careful not to fall asleep with lenses in, unless they are for extended wear.
  • In very dry atmospheres or if you fall asleep, you may find a lens sticks to the eye. Apply one or two drops of saline, massage the lens through the closed lids and it should become easier to remove.
  • Try to avoid wearing lenses on long flights because of the dry atmosphere on aircraft.

General Advice

  • Do not wear soft lenses while using eye drops or ointment (wait one hour for drops and four hours or overnight for ointment).
  • Hard lenses can be worn with drops but not with ointment.
  • Avoid environments containing fumes, chemicals or sprays.
  • It is preferable not to swim with lenses, particularly hard, because of the risk of loss. Soft may cause stinging and red eyes if chlorine is absorbed into the lens material.
  • If soft lenses have been left in their case without being worn for more than about 10 days, resterilise them before use.
  • If your lenses become greasy, never use cleaners such as washing-up liquid because they may damage the surface.
  • Never lick your lenses before putting them in because of the risk of eye infection.
  • Avoid powder based eye make-up and always remove lenses before using make-up remover.

In The Early Days

  • You will obviously feel your lenses to some degree during the first few days. Any discomfort, however, should be no worse than you felt at the initial fitting.
  • After removing lenses, you should be able to return to glasses without too much difficulty – although vision is never as natural. Mention it to your practitioner if there is any excessive ‘spectacle blur’.
  • Wear goggles or large photochromatic glasses for sports such as skiing or cycling in order to protect the eyes from wind, dust and dehydration.
  • If you have an accident and damage one of the lenses, some of the laboratories operate a warranty scheme for the first few weeks – so keep the lens for examination.
  • Near vision with lenses is often a little more difficult in the first few days – especially if you are short sighted.
  • Be careful with driving in the beginning in case you misjudge distances. You may also notice a few additional reflections around lights while your eyes are still watering.

Follow Up Appointments

  • Remember to come in wearing the lenses for your appointment.
  • If you have not had a chance to put them in that day, unless there is a major problem, it is better to re-book your appointment.
  • Ideally, you should have worn the lenses for at least two hours prior to your visit.
  • Bring your lens case and spectacles with, just in case they are needed.

Always remove lenses if your eyes are painful or red. If redness persists, consult your practitioner immediately. In case of an acute problem out of hours, in central London there are 24 hour casualty departments at Moorfields and the Western Ophthalmic Eye Hospitals.