First Time With Lenses Was HARD - Can't Master the Pinchy Maneuver and Just Pushed It Around
February 2, 2005 1:06 PM   Subscribe

First time contact lens wearing: I just got back from trying on my brand new contacts. [If you squint, you will see there is more inside]

The problem is, it was nearly impossible to put them in without some kind of eye anesthetic. Even after having my eyes lightly paralyzed, I couldn't' get my finger into my eye to get the things out. I could get the lens to the side, but couldn't quite figure out how to do the pinching move. After a fruitless hour of poking my eye, my doctor had to take them out for me and said I had to come back for another appointment to practice putting them in and taking them out. What are some techniques you used when you first got contacts?
posted by haqspan to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I had the same problem when I first tried contacts (had to go back for "lessons" even). Try this: hold the eye open with the opposite hand (left hand-right eye), look straight ahead, and place the remaining hand's index finger in the center of the eye. Look up and, at the same time, bring the index finger and thumb together to remove the lens.

It's easier than it sounds, but it *will* take time to get used to it. I've been doing it for over a year now, and there are still occasions when it takes a few extra seconds to remove them. Keep at it.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:17 PM on February 2, 2005

Mainly, practice. When I was 14 it would take me roughly half and hour per eye to put them in, now I can whatever I want to my eyes and I don't have much response. It took me a few weeks to get to a in and out within two minutes level.

Breathe, realize many do this daily and never harm themselves. Make sure your fingers are covered in saline solution. If you don't want to touch your eyes for practice try putting eye drops in, it helps to get the eye to relax when things get close.

Nonetheless, stick it through. Take as much time as you need, it is extremely worth it.
posted by sled at 1:18 PM on February 2, 2005

Gouge, poke, scrape. I'm not kidding. At first it took me forever to get them in, and the first day I wore them to work, my eyes were so red that everyone must have assumed I'd been up all night drinking, or crying, or trying to enucleate myself with a wire brush. It will be a big pain for a while, then one day you'll just magically get it and never think about it again. I find it easiest to get them in if I rinse them with solution first (I use the daily ones that come in a blister pack.) As far as getting them out, pinching never worked for me. What does is rubbing horizontally with a forefinger until the lens sort of pops out, usually on the inside corner near the nose. Don't forget to stock up on ClearEyes. Good luck.
posted by scratch at 1:18 PM on February 2, 2005

Ah, yeah, good point sled, I'd forgotten: wet fingers. Contacts will usually stick to the wettest thing around, so when you're taking them out, you want saline-covered fingers. Of course, when putting them in, then, you want the driest possible fingers.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:21 PM on February 2, 2005

I think it's important to identify why you're having problems. Do you fear touching your eye? I know that was a big problem for me at first. Now I cheerfully smash my eyeballs with my fingers all the time, so improvement will come with practice. As for my method, I usually put the contact lens on my right forefinger, then place my left forefinger on the upper eyelid, my left thumb on the lower eyelid, then do a reverse pinching motion to pry my eyelids open. I then place the contact lens on my eyeball and make sure it's fully in place before I let go with my left hand. The key is to make sure that my hands are completely dry so the contact lens won't adhere to them instead of my eye. To take the lens out, I again pry my eyelids open with my left hand, then place my right forefinger and thumb directly on the left and right of my eyeball, respectively, then pinch. The lens usually pops right off.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 1:23 PM on February 2, 2005

what i do: press on the outer corner of your eye, pull toward your ear, blink. The lens will pop right out onto your eyelashes.
posted by muddylemon at 1:36 PM on February 2, 2005

Don't forget to stock up on ClearEyes.

Do not put in ClearEyes or similar drops (e.g. Visine) while you are wearing your contact lenses or shortly afterward. These drops work by constricting the blood vessels in the eyes. Your corneas are already being deprived of oxygen because they are covered by plastic. Starving them further by reducing their blood supply is a bad, bad, BAD idea.
posted by kindall at 1:36 PM on February 2, 2005

I started with semi-soft lenses. The best thing I can recommend you do is look at your eyes not the lens as you wear it. Focus on the eye and trust yourself. You'll be able to wear lenses easily then. Also I use my middle finger to rest the lens on and my ring finger to pull the lower eyelid down, when I was younger I used to use the index finger to hold the upper eyelid. Just take a deep breath, stop worry about it, focus on your eye in the mirror and try it. If you fail the first few times, don't get frustrated, keep trying. The thing to remember is if you put the lens in hastily it will bother you a bit, instead if you do it by staying relaxed once it's in your eye you'll be able to adjust to it right away.

Hope this helps!
posted by riffola at 1:37 PM on February 2, 2005

The number one enemy of successful contact lens wearing is dehydration. The first time you try to take them out when severly dehydrated - like, say, after a night of drinking - it will be hell. So make sure that you are well hydrated when putting in and taking out contacts. Sometimes you might need to put extra fluid in your eye and wait a few minutes before taking them out.

Also, to help put them in, I find that putting a drop of solution in the contact lens before putting them in helps immeasurably.

But, like others said, it mostly just takes practice and getting used to. It took me a couple of weeks to learn how to do it.
posted by googly at 1:47 PM on February 2, 2005

It might make a difference if you specified what type of lenses you have? For example, I have rigid gas permeable lenses. I notice that my removal method sounds very different from others here.

Me, putting in the right eye lens: Lens goes on tip of right index finger. Lean over, facing down over a counter. Left hand index finger holds open the top eyelid by pressing the lashes up towards my eyebrow. Right hand middle finger holds lower lid open by tugging downward on the upper cheek skin. With lids held thusly open, and looking straight down, right index finger gently puts lens in place.

Removing the right eye lens: (this one took more practice to learn.) Again leaning over a counter, looking straight down, cup left hand close under the eye. Open eyelids as wide as possible - take right index finger, place on outside corner of eye and pull to the side. Blink. This pops the lens out into the cupped left hand.

(reverse hands for either procedure on the other side.)

Again, that's for rigid gas perm lenses. If you have soft or other types, this may not work.
posted by dnash at 1:52 PM on February 2, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice. I'll be trying all the options at my appt. next week.

EatenByAGrue I think I'm afraid/grossed out by touching my eye. It's an eye! Yecch. Plus, as a life-long wearer of glasses, my eyes feel vulnerable whenever I'm not wearing them. What if a big piece of wood were to come along and stick itself right in my cornea? *adjusts glasses just in case the wood is riding up the elevator and looking for corneas right now*

dnash I've got soft contacts that are meant to be worn for one year. Plus, I've got a stigmatism, so they are slightly different than normal contacts.
posted by haqspan at 1:54 PM on February 2, 2005

I second muddylemon's suggestion, although I drag the contact to the corner of my eye, then pull the corner of my eye towards my ear and blink. Just make sure you're not right over a sink and have the contact drop down the drain.
posted by Meagan at 2:18 PM on February 2, 2005

When taking out contact lenses I also find it helpful to move them slightly off center. Then they are easier to "pinch" off.
posted by Pattie at 2:34 PM on February 2, 2005

I'm with Pattie. When you move it off center, it's a bit easier to grab since it doesn't fit the curvature of the eye as well there as it does when it's centered. For my right eye, I use my left hand to pull the upper eyelid up. Then I look up so that the lower part of the contact is in the center of my eye socket. From there, I use my right forefinger to gently move it down a bit, and then I pinch it off with my forefinger and thumb.
posted by Mrmuhnrmuh at 2:52 PM on February 2, 2005

I'm getting queasy and faint just reading this. When I tried to switch from RGPs to astigmatism-type soft lenses, in the optometrist's office trying them on for the first time, I got so upset from having to touch my eye that I said "send them back" and have worn my glasses ever since. It wasn't so much a question of pain (although I had that too), as just the general OOGIEness. Best of luck to you.
posted by matildaben at 3:01 PM on February 2, 2005

Not eye-specific but helpful for new lens-wearers: Put a white towel down on the surface in front of you. Most lenses have a slight blue tint, and so if you drop one - and sooner or later you will - you'll be able to find it more easily.

Also, if you have long hair, tie it back while you're taking the lenses in and out. It's easier than you might think to take the lens out and stick it accidentally to your hair. Then while you're trying to get the other lens out and find your glasses, the lens in your hair has fallen to the ground and is even more tricky to find.

I swear this has happened to me only once in 20 years, but clearly it made an impression!
posted by hsoltz at 3:03 PM on February 2, 2005

BTW, when I first went to get contacts, the doctor couldn't even get them in my eyes. Six months later I went to a different optometrist and he was able to get them in and out with ease, and to teach me how as well. So don't despair if you have trouble the next may just need someone with a more patient 'chairside manner.'
posted by hsoltz at 3:07 PM on February 2, 2005

haqspan, I understand the squeamishness about your eyes. But trust me, they're not as fragile as you think. I used to think my eyes would pop if I so much as breathed on them, but now I'm fearless. Try doing this: close your eye and put your finger on your eyelid. Push down a little. See how firm your eye feels? Now keep your finger on your eyelid and move your finger around -- perhaps in circles. That's the extent of what you'd do to your eye. Your eyelids don't make much of a difference, so you can feel confident your eyes will stand up to your finger.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 3:42 PM on February 2, 2005

When I first got contacts (about 20 years ago) it took me about 3 hours to get them in the first time. For the first week, I ended up crying in frustration every time I had to put them in. Now I whip them in and out without a thought.

One thing I found helpful at first was to wrap my left arm over my head and pull up the upper right eyelid with my middle finger. I'd pull down the lower eyelid with my right middle finger and push the contact with the pointer finger. To remove them, I'd hold the eye open the same way and kind of squeeze my pointer finger and thumb together until the contact sort of folded and I could lift it out. For some reason, this was the only way to get my eye open wide enough; I think I had especially large contacts.
posted by belladonna at 4:23 PM on February 2, 2005

what everyone else said--i had a really hard learning experience and was terrified of sticking things in my eyes, but it gets much much better. my place wouldn't let me leave with them until i could do it successfully in a reasonable amount of time.

also, don't wear them all day long in the beginning--build up to that slowly.
posted by amberglow at 6:06 PM on February 2, 2005

Once you've mastered the art of getting them in and out of your eyes, keep in mind that part of the reason there are so many different brands and types of lenses is that different people need different types.

I recently tried a different version of the brand I had worn for years and they didn't work. My eyes were irritated and dry all day, and I was quickly able to realize that it was the lenses. If you are really having problems with the lenses, don't hesitate to try another brand.
posted by Coffeemate at 7:45 PM on February 2, 2005

Pattie's tip is an excellent one. To take mine out I hold my eyelid open with the thumb and forefinger of my left hand. Looking straight ahead I put my right forefinger onto the lens and then look across to my nose, so my eye moves under the lens. It's now easy to pinch the lens of the white part of my eye.

To put them in, I do the reverse. That is, onto the white part and then look out toward my ear. So my eye moves under the lens and into position. Saves having to deal with sticking my finger directly into my vision.

To begin with I had an awful time like everyone else. Keep at it and you'll work it out. I had a problem with them popping straight back out once I had finally managed to get them in. The discovery that I had been putting them in turned "inside-out" was a major A-ha! moment. (That may only apply to very soft disposable lenses)
posted by Prince Nez at 1:33 AM on February 3, 2005

Keep trying. Your eyes will build up callouses that will make the whole experience less traumatic.

I look up and put my lenses onto the white part of my eye. I press down on the lens a bit to force the air out from underneath it, so it sticks to my eye better. Then I relax for a couple of seconds without blinking, and look down to move the lens onto the ceter of my eye.

More AskMe contact lens advice here.
posted by fuzz at 4:41 AM on February 3, 2005

It seems that we all have our own techniques, and these will only develop with time for you I suppose. But it does get better. In taking them off, you really have to get rid of the fear of touching your eye, there's really no other way. The thing that works for me is "sweeping" the lens with my finger downwards until it touches the bottom and naturally curls up a bit making it easier to remove - then just pinch it and off it comes. Good luck.
posted by keijo at 6:50 AM on February 3, 2005

I got contacts recently, and while I (finally!) got over my paralyzing fear of touching my eyes, I can never seem to see properly in them. Things are always kind of swimmy, especially things that are about an arms-length away. I'm constantly blinking to try to clear my vision, and it often doesn't help. Sometimes I can get a few hours where things are clear, but not always.

Is this a prescription problem, or a brand problem? Maybe a sizing problem? Maybe just a consequence of having worn glasses for 15 odd years, and not being used to contacts?
posted by heatherann at 8:12 PM on February 4, 2005

for astigmatism, you may have to go through a number of brands. i tried three or four before i found the kind i like (preference toric, which are fantastic but expensive).
posted by radioamy at 11:16 PM on February 28, 2005

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