As far as I was concerned, there was only one thing hindering me from a successful career in basketball – my eyeglasses.
Playing basketball while wearing glasses hinders your peripheral vision. And most importantly, hurts like the dickens when the basketball or another players’ arms slam into your glasses, which then embed themselves into your nose or eye, momentarily taking you out of commission.
As an athletic, tall, and opinionated sixth grader, I somehow convinced my extremely cheap mother to buy contacts for me before I entered the 7th grade, claiming that playing basketball sucked without contacts.
I have worn contact lenses ever since – a good 15 years – even though my basketball playing days ended after that 7th grade year. My mom’s a sucker.
The Superiority of Contact Lenses
In the years past seventh grade, and long after my final basketball season, I continue to learn how superior contacts lenses are to wearing glasses, and how smart my 12-year-old self really was to want them. I have learned that:
1) Contacts are great for lying down. You can enjoy resting your head on a pillow while watching TV or reading a book without them digging into your face or needing them to be at just the right angle.
2) Contacts are great for naps (as long as they are contacts approved for you to sleep in). Glasses jab you if you accidentally fall asleep and forget to take them off first. And may get a little skewed.
3) Contacts are great when outside in the bright sunshine. Sure you can get tinted glasses, but those are usually reserved for an “older crowd.” With contacts you can wear some stylish sunglasses while outside or wear a hat without eyewear hitting the brim of your eyeglasses.
4) Contacts are great when making out, because nothing says romance like stabbing your husband in the neck or eye accidentally with your glasses while getting close.
5) Contacts are great for seeing. There’s no glare, no specks of dust to wipe off, no blurry rim always there, and your vision is crystal clear for your entire sight line.
6) Contacts are great for wearing makeup. How lame is when you spend 15 minutes putting on some beautiful eye make-up only to have it hard to actually see and appreciate because of your glasses? It’s nice to actually see someone’s eyes and face without glasses impeding the beautiful view.
7) Contacts are great for swimming. No one wants to wear glasses at the pool, because soon it’ll mean not being able to see well from all the water splashing on them. With contacts you can wear goggles too.
8) Contacts are great in cold weather. No fogging glasses!
My eyes changed quite a bit through my adolescent and teen years, but optometrists agree that most children between the ages of 10-12 are mature enough to wear and care for contact lenses. The yearly comprehensive exams proved especially important during my growing up years as my prescription changed (for the worse) almost every time I had them examined. During my exams, I learned how to properly care for and wear my contact lenses.
How to Properly Care for Contact Lenses
A lot of people don’t realize that contact lenses are a medical device; this is why you need to have a prescription to order them and wear them. Proper vision and eye health affects how well a person functions and succeeds in life. Which is why it is important to know the following:
1. Not All Contacts Are Made the Same
I have tried on so many different brands of contact lenses. I don’t know how contact lenses are made, but every brand is different. What works well for your friend or your brother may drive you batty!
When you visit your optometrist, he always does a contact fitting to try to make sure you get a brand that will work for you. However, just because a contact fits your eye properly, and is supposed to allows so much oxygen to your eye, it does not mean that it will be comfortable for you.
Every optometrist I have been to lets you give the contact lenses a trial run for a good two weeks. If you hate your contacts for whatever reason, tell your optometrist! He will let you try out another pair, and another, until you find a pair that is comfortable for you to wear all day, that you don’t feel constantly in your eye. It’s important to do this, and to find the contacts that work best for you, before your optometrist writes out your prescription and are stuck with four boxes of them!
Also, some contacts offer a wider fit than others. My husband has large irises, and for a long time was wearing contacts that weren’t a good fit. He now has a pair that work much better for his wide and flat eyes!
2. How to Clean Your Contacts Properly
When it comes time to handle your contact lenses, making sure you follow a consistent hygiene routine will help prevent most of the dangerous damage that can cause long-term problems with your vision and eye health. This routine includes:
- Washing your hands with clean water and soap, and letting them air dry (so you don’t have fuzzy little particles from your towel on your finger tips!).
- Keeping your fingernails trim so you don’t accidentally poke or scrape your eye when removing or putting in your contact lenses.
- Using a saline cleaning solution to rub the lenses with your fingers (I rub them in my palm) and rinsing thoroughly before soaking the lenses overnight in a sufficient amount of multi-purpose disinfectant solution.
- Cleaning your contact case by rubbing them with your (clean) fingers, rinsing with fresh solution, drying with a tissue, and storing them upside down.
- Replacing your multi-purpose solution everyday and never re-using old solution.
- Replacing your contact case every three months.
- Removing contact lenses before exposing them to water or when removing your eye makeup.
3. You Shouldn’t Wear Your Contacts Longer than Prescribed.
Every brand of contact lenses have a prescribed amount of time you should wear them before throwing them away, as well as if they are okay to sleep while wearing them. Your optometrist should tell you what those limits are for the brand and style you wear.
According to the American Optometric Assocation’s 2015 American Eye-Q survey, more than half (59 percent) of Americans wear disposable contact lenses longer than the suggested duration. I am totally one of those 59 percent, as I am cheap and want to have these contacts last me as long as possible! But, this bad habit can cause permanent eye damage from bacterial infections and oxygen deprivation.
If you are part of the majority doing this (like me), I highly suggest you do a really good job of taking care of your contact lenses by cleaning and rinsing your lenses with proper solution (aka not tap water, saliva or even rewetting drops!) so that you remove mucus, secretions, films, or deposits that can build up during everyday wear.
4. You Should Keep a Pair of Glasses on Hand
When your eyes are extra itchy (like during allergy season), get something in them, or you contract a case of pink eye, you shouldn’t wear your contacts! It is at these times that it is important to have proper eye vision still, so keep a pair of eye glasses on hand.
Besides, when you take your contacts out in the evening, it’s pretty darn handy to be able to see in the dark, should you need to get up for some reason (like to tend to a crying child). Plus, you may run out of contacts before your next eye appointment, or lose a contact while traveling or something.
5. When In Doubt – Take Them Out!
When your eyes get irritated, take out your contacts. When you get sweat in your eyes and they sting, take them out. When you accidentally get sunblock, makeup, dust, or hairspray in your eye or on your contacts, take them out and give them a thorough cleaning. When your eyes are tired, take out your contacts. And even if your contacts can be slept in, take them out before bed anyway and give your eyes a rest!
When your contacts keep itching or bothering your eyes for a few days in a row, it’s mostly likely time to ditch the pair and put in a new one, especially if a good scrub and soak are not doing the trick to make them comfortable again. Know it is okay to switch out only one side of contacts and keep the other side a little longer if it hasn’t been bothering you (yet). Check out the American Optometric Association to learn more about healthy contact lens habits.
How to Save on Contact Lenses
In the 15 years I have been wearing contact lenses I have learned a lot about caring for my contact lenses, and I have also learned how to wear contact lenses for less too!
One of the biggest hurdles many have to using contacts is the cost. You have to pay for a contact fitting fee (which sometimes is not covered by vision insurance, if you have it) as well as pay for boxes of contacts which are not very cheap, plus keep a pair of eyeglasses around too, for when you need them.
I learned how to make them more affordable once I married and had to pay for contacts for myself and my husband, instead of having my parents foot the bill. We were both still in college too, so every bit of savings really helped! Besides wearing contacts for far longer than we should, we learned that:
1. You don’t need to go to an expensive optometrist or pay for vision insurance.
One of the easiest ways to save money on contacts is by saving on the eye check-up and contact fitting. Call around to various optometrists in your area and ask for their prices for both the eye appointment and contact fitting fee. We’ve discovered that it’s generally cheapest to go to the vision center in Walmart. My husband and I never pay for vision insurance since we only do the one yearly visit and shop around for the lowest priced optometrist and contacts, because…
2. You don’t have to order contacts in-store
There is usually no reason to order your contacts right after your appointment with your optometrist, unless you do have vision insurance that is going to pay part of the bill, and they require you to order them from your optometrist (but I’d double check that it actually has to be from your eye doctor).
My husband and I save a lot of money by obtaining the script for our contact prescriptions and then ordering them online. We shop around various contact-selling websites and find the one offering the best deal. Because we order online, we can use cash back sites like Ebates (If you sign up for Ebates you’ll get a $10 sign-up bonus!).
The last time we ordered contacts we ordered my husband’s contacts from Discount Contact Lenses and my contacts from Coastal.com because of their killer prices on our prescription contacts! Cheapest that we found by far too.
Altogether we save close to $100 (or more) on a year’s supply of contact lenses between my and my husband’s contact needs every time we shop around and order online.
Lastly, when you buy, buy the four boxes, especially if your prescription hasn’t changed much, if at all, in the last few years: retailers usually offer a discount (or rebate) when you order four boxes.
3. You don’t need name brand multi-purpose solution.
Just like you don’t need to order contacts directly from your optometrist, you also don’t need to buy name-brand multi-purpose solution. Buying the store-brand will save you a lot of money as they can be up to $3 cheaper per bottle. I haven’t seen any difference in quality between name brand solutions and the store brands. Just be sure to follow the directions on the box, and you are good to go!
4. Don’t go for the fancy eyeglasses.
If you want to wear contacts 95% of the time you are awake, and pretty much only within your own home, then do not splurge the extra few hundred dollars on your regular eye glasses for the thinner, less-glare lenses or the more stylish name brand frames. Go cheap-o!
Frames and lenses together for $100 or less is pretty sweet. Again, you don’t have to buy the eyeglasses from the optometrist (unless completely covered by your vision insurance).
If you get the script from your eye doctor, you can shop online at places like DiscountGlasses.com, where you can get free shipping and free returns every day. Plus you can save an extra 25% off with code BENE25 or save $15 off an order of $50 or more with code DEG15AF.
But they aren’t the only place that sells glasses online inexpensively. Feel free to shop around, but before you buy, make sure to check out Groupon Coupons where you’ll find thousands of coupons and exclusive promo codes to online retailers, including many of these online eyeglasses sellers like EyeBuyDirect.
How grateful I am that fifteen years ago I wisely bugged my mother to get me contact lenses, under the guise of inconvenient basketball playing. I haven’t played basketball in years, but am grateful for the awesome benefits that have come from wearing contacts, and for the knowledge on how to wear them correctly and properly so my eyes stay healthy and my vision clear.
What are your contact wearing tips?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.