Contact Lenses for Beginners: Tips for the First Time

Medically Reviewed by Whitney Seltman, OD on November 02, 2022
4 min read

If you’ve just gotten fitted with contacts for the first time, you may have questions about how to wear and take care of them. It may not be as simple on slipping on a pair of eyeglasses. And it may take longer to get used to them.

Here’s what contact lens beginners should know.

It’s important to know what kind of contacts your eye doctor has ordered for you. Soft lenses are the most commonly prescribed because they’re flexible and tend to be more comfortable.

Hard lenses are also called gas-permeable (GP) lenses. They’re more rigid and may sharpen your vision better than soft lenses can. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist may suggest hard lenses if you have astigmatism or allergies.

Soft contacts come in different kinds, including:

  • Daily disposable (you throw them out every day)
  • Extended-wear disposable (replaced every 1, 2, or 4 weeks)
  • Toric (for moderate astigmatism, when your eye is more oval than round)
  • Bifocal (corrects your vision for both nearsightedness and farsightedness)

Hard contacts last longer, up to several months. If you plan to store them for a long time, use a dry case without contact solution to avoid possible contamination.

It may take some practice to get the hang of it.

  1. Wash your hands with soap and dry them with a lint-free cloth or towel.
  2. Open your contact lens case or package. Always keep the other eye closed so you won’t mix up the right and left lenses.
  3. Use your fingertips, not nails, to slide one lens into the palm of the hand that you don’t write with. Rinse the lens with a contact solution.
  4. Place the lens on the tip of your index or middle finger of your dominant hand.
  5. Check that the lens isn’t damaged and make sure it’s right side up. The edge of the lens should form a bowl. If it’s inside out, carefully flip the lens.
  6. Hold your upper eyelid open with your pointer or middle finger of your non-dominant hand. Hold your lower eyelid with your middle or ring finger of your dominant hand.
  7. Using a magnifying mirror, try to look forward, or up if you can’t look straight ahead. Place the lens in your eye.
  8. Close your eyes slowly and let the lens settle into place. The lens should feel comfortable and you should see clearly. If not, take it out, rinse with the solution, and try again.
  9. Repeat with your other eye.

Be sure to take your lenses out on schedule, depending on whether they’re dailies or longer wearing. Here’s how:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and dry them.
  2. Use the middle finger of your non-dominant hand to hold open your upper eyelid.
  3. Use the middle finger of your dominant hand to hold open your lower eyelid. Pinch the lens with your index finger and thumb and take it out. You can also try sliding the lens downward first, and then pinching it out.
  4. Repeat with your other eye.

There are two main types of cleaning solutions.

Multipurpose solutions are the most common. They can clean and disinfect your lenses and keep them moist overnight in a case. You can get multipurpose solution for either hard or soft lenses.

Hydrogen peroxide-based solutions are a good choice if you have allergies or are sensitive to chemicals. But they require an extra step. You add a neutralizing disk to convert the solution to saline so it won’t sting your eyes.

It’s not safe to use saliva, tap water, or even rewetting drops to clean or rinse your lenses. They don’t disinfect and could cause an infection.

Here are some rules to help keep your eyes healthy if you wear contact lenses.

  • Replace contacts as often as your doctor recommends.
  • Use unscented soap to wash your hands.
  • Dry your hands well with a lint-free cloth.
  • Don’t re-wear daily disposable lenses or reuse old solution from the case.
  • Replace the contact lens case every 3 months.
  • Don’t sleep in your contacts, especially daily-wear lenses.
  • Avoid showering or swimming with your contacts in.
  • Use only rewetting drops specifically made for contacts. Don’t use regular eye drops.
  • Get your eyes checked every year.

Problems with contacts may include infection or lenses that don’t fit well. Take out your contacts right away and call your doctor if you have: