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Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Published: 10/8/2005

Trying to get comfortable with contacts

Oh no! It didn't fall on the rug - the rug where the cat napped yesterday - did it? I'll never find it there. If I do, it will have to be thoroughly cleaned.

But there it is, clinging to the side of my hand.

Contact lenses are slippery devils. Once one of them escapes, there's no telling where it has landed, or what is the best way to find it.

You can get on your hands and knees and crawl ever so slowly on the rug or tile while you hold a large magnifying glass. Don't move too fast, or you could run over the contact. In that case, either you will never find it or it will cling to your knee or pant leg and you may spot it hours later.

Another way to search for a lost contact is to engage a very strong flashlight and steady it where you think the lens dropped. Don't give the area a quick once-over, but use the flashlight at different angles several times to try to see the shiny surface that can easily pass for a spot of water.

The easiest way, of course, is to forget about it and dip into the supply for a new lens.

If you are not careful, or until you master the skill of successful contact application, you could go through the supply in a hurry.

I am not a full-time contact wearer, but I want to be. When I do wear them, I am far from zapping them into my eyes on the first try with accuracy, but I am getting better. One of the first painful lessons is that one speck of dust feels like a boulder in your eye, so keep them clean and keep them wet in the solution.

The purchase of a digital camera or a cellular telephone includes an instruction manual. But for contacts, the instructions are verbally given by a technician at the doctor's office, who very likely will put your contacts in the first time to show you "the ropes," and stress the importance of proper cleaning. Do you have any questions? Not yet, but wait until tomorrow and the next day.

If you truly want to wear contacts, chances are you will learn the best method to apply them. My choice to try wearing them one more time was based on something more that appearance. Glasses had become a nuisance. The trendy frameless design was often crooked and smudged, and a bad habit of wearing glasses to bed to read or watch TV - and then rolling on them - didn't help.

The first step is getting the contacts out of the solution in the plastic case. The clear contacts hide in the clear solution and are not easily detected. Are they in there, or aren't they, you may ask, even though you are positive you deposited them in the case the night before.

One of the most dreadful mistakes is to put two contacts in the same compartment of the case. Two contacts stuck together do not double vision performance.

Now that I forfeited my best fingernail, I can more easily slip the contacts from the case. Long fingernails and contacts are not compatible.

Personally, I find that balancing the contact on the end of the forefinger is the most reliable first step. Then, I proceed ever so slowly toward the cornea, being careful not to drop the lens. It's maddening when the elusive contact falls from the finger perch, misses the eye, and lands on the cheek. Then I have to begin all over again.

Placing the first contact in an eye is the most challenging because it is not easy to see clearly. Working in front of a magnifying mirror is beneficial. So what if the mirror enlarges every facial flaw? It also magnifies the contact and the eyeball target. With the first contact in place, it's easier to see and to accurately place the second one and then, suddenly, it's a wonderfully clear world out there.

Don't let these graphic descriptions discourage you from wearing contacts, if your doctor approves, of course. It's really quite a miracle that vision can be improved through a polymer and water disc that is smaller than a dime. One advantage is that you no longer must decide on a style and color of glasses frames. I have always dreaded that decision and have a collection of old glasses that reflect the trends from large owl glasses in the '60s to the current more discreet models.



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