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How to put in contact lenses for the first time

How to put in contact lenses for the first time
(Image credit: Getty)

If you’ve been advised to contacts, learning how to put them in properly should be your first port of call. The best contact lenses online range from dailies to those for astigmatism, but putting them in and taking them out involves roughly the same approach. Here we guide you through how to put in contact lenses for the first time, and also how to make sure you take them out safely too. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll see that this type of prescription vision wear comes with minimum fuss and maximum convenience. 

The big thing to remember is hand hygiene – never touch your eyes with unclean hands – and to have regular check-ups with your eye doctor to ensure your prescription is still working hard enough for you. We’d also recommend speaking to your eye doctor if you’re experiencing any redness or stinging in your eyes.

For more eye health content, also take a look at our guides to the best eyeglasses online and the best vision insurance.

What should you do before putting in contact lenses

It’s extremely important to make sure your hands are washed properly before putting in your contact lenses. Not washing your hands can introduce bacteria into your eye, which could lead to nasty infections and further complications. 

When you put in lenses for the first time, make sure you have a mirror handy and there’s enough light for you to see what you’re doing. This is doubly important if you are short-sighted. Also, take a minute to read the manufacturer’s instructions too, as there may be some additional information in there.

How to put in contact lenses: A woman with hazel eyes puts a lens on her eyeball

(Image credit: ShutterStock)

If you need to clean your lenses, you should also only use the recommended solutions. Do not use water from the faucet to clean your lenses, and, it goes without saying, never use saliva to lubricate your lenses. That’s a huge no.

How to put in contact lenses for the first time

This can be a daunting experience for some, especially if you’re nervous it might feel uncomfortable, or that your finger is getting ever-closer to your eyeball, but if you follow the following steps you won’t feel a thing. Also, it’s ok to get through a few pairs of lenses while you’re getting the hang of putting them in.

Step 1.
Make sure you know which lens is for the right eye, and which lens is for the left eye. Most contact lens wearers start with the same eye each time – usually the right – to avoid confusion. The left and right should also be clearly marked on the case or packet too.

Step 2.
Once your hands are clean and lint free) remove the lens from the packet or container. This could be by carefully tipping it onto your finger, or by gently scooping it out of the solution. Avoid being too rough as it might tear the lens. 

Step 3.
If you have soft lenses, make sure it isn’t inside out. This is easy to tell, as the correct shape is a perfect semi-circle and not scooped up at the rim. 

Step 4.
Put the lens in your palm and rinse with a cleaning solution, then place it on the tip of your index finger with the concave side up.

Step 5.
Use one of your fingers to gently hold down the lower eyelid, before looking upwards and gently placing the lens onto your eyeball. 

Step 6.
Release your finger and slowly blink a couple of times to let the lens settle. 

It’s important to remove your lenses if they feel uncomfortable or if you have been wearing them all day. For those of you wondering can you sleep with contacts in, the answer is no, as this can lead to all sorts of problems including dry eyes, infections, and, in the worst-case scenario, loss of sight.

Are hard contacts easier to put in than soft contacts?

There are two different types of lenses available: soft lenses and hard lenses, also known as rigid gas permeable lenses. Because softer lenses are made from flexible material, they are more comfortable, but this floppiness also means they can turn inside out – make sure they are the right way round (in a perfect semi-circle with no scooped edges) before putting them in. 

Both lenses are relatively easy to put in using the same method as explained in  ‘How to put contact lenses in for the first time’ section above. One of the biggest differences between hard and soft lenses though is in how you care for them, so read the instructions first. Soft lenses are also generally more comfortable to wear, although the comfort of hard lenses has since come a long way.

How to put in contact lenses: An image of a clear lens shown on a blue background

(Image credit: Getty)

How to remove contact lenses easily and safely

Taking out your soft lenses is easy to do, and there are a few different ways you can do it. One of the easiest ways is shown in this video by contact lens manufacturer Acuvue.

The video runs through a simple technique, which involves looking up and pulling down the lower eyelid, before touching your index finger to the bottom edge of the lens and sliding it down to the lower right. You can then gently squeeze the lens between thumb and index finger to remove it completely. 

Hard lenses have different methods of removal, which involves blinking until the lens pops out into your palm, or you can use a special suction tool. This takes a little bit of practice, but your eye doctor will be able to advise you.

Should you use eye drops after wearing contacts?

If your eyes become dry while wearing lenses, then there are special lubricating eye drops available specifically for use with contacts. These offer instant relief, and are handy if you work at a computer screen all day, for instance.

If you have medicated eye drops then check with your eye doctor first if you can wear contact lenses while you are taking the drops. If you need to use medicated eye drops to treat an eye infection for example, then you may need to avoid your contact lenses until your infection has cleared up. 

If it is still possible to wear your lenses, but your drops aren’t suitable to apply while wearing them, then remove them, apply the drops, and wait at least 15 minutes before putting your contact lenses back in. 

If, however, you want drops for another reason such as allergies or drops to relieve tired or red eyes, some of these cannot be used while the contacts lenses are being worn, so always check the packet first. If you are in any doubt as to whether you can use the eye drops with contact lenses, then remove the lenses or check with your eye doctor before using.