I wear contact lenses since many years, but it took a long time till I actually learned to do it right. Now I find contacts much more comfortable and don't get any dryness or redness anymore. Many people never get informed about how they should be taking care of their lenses and their eyes. Here are some tips:
Cleaning your lenses:* Clean your hands really well before handling your lenses. This means taking more than just two seconds to rub the palms and fingers with soap. I swear that since I started doing this my lenses have become much more comfortable to wear.
* Keep the contact lenses case clean. I throw out the old liquid everyday and let the case air dry, and every time I get new monthly lenses I disinfect the case with boiling water. When I get new lens cleaning liquid, I use the new case that comes with it.
* You need a protein remover. This maybe a separate solution, or an all-in-one. It removes the protein buildup that the regular lens solution doesn't remove.
* To clean and disinfect the lenses properly get a solution that contains hydrogen peroxide and use it once a week. Don't forget to add the neutralising tablets! A solution with enzymes is another good option.
* Get used to always applying and removing the right lens first (or the left, if you prefer). That way you are less likely to get your lenses mixed up if you wear a different strength in each eye. Even if the strength of both your lenses are the same, this habit will be very useful if this changes in the future. Or if one of your eyes gets infected.
Caring for your eyes:* Have lens-free evenings and days. Since lenses (especially the soft ones) limit the flow of oxygen to the eye, it is really important to have times where you are not wearing lenses and let your eyes breathe. If you own nice glasses that you like to wear, you could have a glasses day once a week. If like me you don't like wearing or being seen in glasses very much, you could wear them during weekday evenings when you are at home, or a day on the weekend. In this case you can have a cheapo pair of glasses for home wear, if you are in the US or somewhere where glasses are really expensive, online can be a place to find something reasonable. Don't read without lenses and glasses, as this actually worsens the eyesight.
* Be really careful with eye problems. If I see that my eye is irritated, if I have been crying hard, or if I notice that something is not right with my eyes, I don't wear lenses till it calms down.
* If your eyes are dry, eye drops can be nice. Personally I like anything with Euphrasia. I don't use them regularly, but I have a couple of tiny ampoules for late nights and parties.
* Get your power checked regularly, especially if you are younger or have recently been pregnant. You can develop a self-test, for example if I can't read the numbers on the bus stop display from a certain distance, I know that my strength has changed again and it's time for a check-up.
* If you have an eye infection, do see a doctor. Or, even your local apothecary, they are usually pretty good at telling a simple case of conjunctivitis apart from something more serious, and prescribing you the right thing.
Don't forget to chuck out the lenses and get fresh, bacteria-free ones; or you may reinfect yourself (been there, done that).
* Get your eyes checked regularly if you wear contact lenses. If you don't live in a country that provides free healthcare, be even more diligent about caring for your eyes and lenses. And teeth.
Makeup:* Apply the lenses before you do your makeup.
* Remove the lenses before taking off your makeup. Always.
* If you have trouble wearing mascara with contact lenses, there are some opthamological mascaras out there, these are mascaras developed especially for contact lens wearers. Opticians often carry those. Otherwise, try tightlining.
* Try not to go to sleep with your eye makeup on. If you do, do a glasses-only day afterwards to helps the eye flush out the bits of makeup that got into your eye.
When out and about:* Wear your glasses instead of contact lenses if there is a lot of dust around. Bits of dirt trapped between the lenses and the eye are not nice.
* Sunglasses are a great protection against dust, sand and kamikaze insects. Especially when bicycling.
* I like to have a mirror in my bag at all times, because of said kamikaze insects and stray lashes. I also used to carry a small ampoule of contact-lenses cleaning liquid when I was new to lenses, just in case I needed to clean and reapply the lens.
How long do monthly contact lenses last?A very common question: can you wear your monthly lenses for longer than a month? The problem is not that contact lenses expire after one month, it's that the protein buildup and bacteria cultures make the lenses hard to tolerate. If you wear your lenses only occasionally you could wear them a little longer than a calendar month without problems, as opposed to someone who wears their lenses for many hours every day. Either way, it is really important to keep your lenses really clean, as I've explained above. One bad eye infection or even the corneas getting oversensitive can mean not being able to wear lenses for a year, if not worse. Sometimes people get away with not taking out their monthly contact lenses for years, and then suddenly develop a nasty infection.
I have often wondered which lenses are the best. I have used several, and noticed that the comfort differs very much from brand to brand, but not necessarily according to the price tag. Right now I am wearing the ones from DM (the German drugstore) because they are a tad more comfortable than the ones from Air Optix, and much more cheaper; plus they seem to not have a right and wrong side. I haven't tested a lot of lenses though, so I'd love to know which stand out for you!
photo credit: Dennis Larson via photopin cc