Instructions for handling contact lenses

It's important to understand what type of contact lenses you have and how to take care of them. The tips in this book are aimed at keeping your eyes healthy and preventing complications from contact lenses. Remember, your best source of information about your vision and your prescription is your eye care provider.

What should I know about contact lenses?

Many different kinds of contacts are available. All kinds fall under two broad categories, soft and rigid. The two types offer slightly different advantages and disadvantages.

Wearing contacts pose a risk to your eye health if not worn correctly. Be aware of how to correctly handle your contacts and what complications could arise.

It is not possible to determine in advance whether you will become a successful contact lens wearer or not. Personal, physiological and environmental factors may require changes in the wearing schedule or termination of lens wear. Please keep your glasses prescription up-to-date in case you are unable to wear your lenses.

Adhering to the lens care system recommended is important. The risk of complications increases when you do not adhere to the lens care system prescribed for you. Switching or mixing products could cause irritation and/or permanently discolor your lenses.

A lens should be brought back to your eye doctor for evaluation if:

  1. It accumulates deposits, is no longer comfortable, or becomes discolored and cannot be restored to its original condition using the methods in this pamphlet.
  2. It becomes scratched, chipped, or cracked.

If you experience redness, secretion, visual blurring, or pain (RSVP), remove your contact lenses at once. If the symptom subsides, the lenses can be cleaned and reinserted. If the lenses are removed and the symptom does not subside or reappears upon reinsertion, remove the lenses immediately and call us!

Contact lenses require proper care and handling. They must pass many rigid tests to insure proper power, shape, and durability. Contacts do not develop tears, nicks, or scratches by themselves. They are only caused through mishandling of the lenses by the patient. How well you care and handle them will determine how long they last. You must follow all instructions in caring for and handling your lenses. Failure to do so could damage your lenses. The average patient will replace at least one lens per year. Lost, damaged, or contaminated lenses will not be replaced free of charge.

Contact lens fitting 

Contact lens fitting requires a number of follow-up visits (two to three visits in the first three months). These visits are very important to ensure the proper fit of the lens and the health of the eye. Please keep all appointments made for you.

Contact lens appointments are recommended every six months and are mandatory yearly for prescription refill.

A contact lens prescription does not exist until the doctor deems your lens fit acceptable after several checks during follow-up care. After you have been released from initial follow-up care, you may request a copy of your contact lens prescription.

Your cooperation is vital to your success in wearing contact lenses.

How to put in and take out contact lenses

Depending on the type of lens you wear, follow these steps. 

Soft lens instructions

  1. Wash hands
  2. Inspect lens
  3. Insert lens
  4. Wash hands
  5. Remove lens
  6. Clean lens
  7. Rinse with saline
  8. Disinfect lens

Gas permeable lens instructions

  1. Wash hands
  2. Inspect lens
  3. Apply wetting solution
  4. Insert lens
  5. Wash hands
  6. Remove lens
  7. Clean lens
  8. Rinse with saline
  9. Disinfect in soaking solution

What can I wash my hands with before handling my contacts?

Wash your hands before handling your lenses. Do not use any soap containing cream, lotion, oil, or perfume.

No Yes
Softsoap Neutrogena
Ivory Liquid Ivory Bar
Caress Opti-Soap
Dove Clear dishwashing detergent (Joy)
Gentle Touch Dial and Dial pump
Any deodorant soap  

Keeps nails short, filed and clean.

University of Iowa Health Science Relations and Christine Sindt, OD

Last reviewed: 
August 2016

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