Having done a lot of contact lens I&R insertion and replacement training at a private practice for over a year, I have accumulated a good list of useful recommendations for first-time contact lens users. Conveying this information is critical for practices which prescribe a lot of contact lenses! I would recommend keeping a printed copy and making sure all first-time users have one, here it is:
- Wash your hands before inserting the contact lens. Note: This step may sound obvious but is often forgotten.
- No sleeping with contact lenses. Note: Despite the fact there are extended wear contact lenses, minimizing infection is critical.
- Wash your face or shower with your eyes closed while wearing contact lenses. If somehow water enters the eye, either replace the lens or clean it in contact lens solution. Note: The same goes for swimming.
- Gradually increase wear time over several days for the first few days (e.g. 2, 4, 6, 8hrs) before reaching a max wear time of 10 hours or more. Note: A gradual increase allows the patient to monitor dry eye symptoms or any other sources of discomfort.
- Make sure to wear the contact lens for several hours before the follow up appointment. Note: I had to send a patient back to the waiting area after putting on new toric lenses, since it takes time for the lens to rotate (at least 15min).
- Store the lenses in the proper storage case and replace your case every 3 months. Note: Make sure the patient knows which side of the case is for OD vs. OS lenses. The caps are colored, have labels, or both.
- Always put new contact lens solution in your case each time you remove your contacts to properly disinfect the lenses. Never re-use old solution!
- If hydrogen peroxide cleaning solution like Clearcare is used, make sure the patient allows enough time for the peroxide to take action, or properly rinse it away before using the lens. Note: Hydrogen peroxide on the eye is not a good feeling.
- Upon contact lens removal, place the lens in the palm of your hand and rub the contact lens gently on each side with disinfecting solution. The key word is “gentle.”
- If there is any sense of irritation, replace the lenses. If the symptoms persist, remove the contact lenses and make an appointment. Note: The sensitivity of each patient varies widely so this point is very subjective.
This list is not exhaustive and you may want to add to the list as you go. Please take the time to go through the list with the patient (or the patient’s parents in the case of a minor) so that questions and concerns are properly answered. Such precautions will significantly reduce the number of unhappy contact lens patients, which means less headaches for us and a better experience for our patients!