Contact Lens FAQ

Choose a category below to find answers to the most frequently asked contact lens questions.

Before you buy contact lenses

 What are the different types of contact lenses? Which type is best for my eyes? Why the price differences?

Contact lenses can have different replacement schedules such as daily disposable, two-week disposable or monthly disposable.

Contacts come in different materials that help to make them more breathable. Some materials are less prone to drying out and some resist deposits better than others.

Some lenses can correct for astigmatism as well as nearsightedness or farsightedness, and some provide additional reading correction.

The lens that is best for you depends on your visual needs, how often you prefer to replace them, and your budget. Read more here.

More frequent replacement lenses tend to be a little more expensive because you use a lot more of them, but they require less cleaning and maintenance. Newer technology lenses that are more breathable and less dry, also tend to be a little more expensive. Read more about price differences here.

 What makes someone a good candidate for contact lenses?

The quality that most makes you a good candidate for contacts is motivation. Almost anyone can successfully wear contacts if you are excited about them and are willing to give them a try.

People who have really high amounts of astigmatism or extremely dry eyes might have a more difficult time wearing contact lenses. Read more here.

 I’m seeing some terminology on the contact lens boxes that I don’t understand. What do terms like toric and multifocal mean?

We do use some strange terms to describe contact lenses! Here are a few of the common ones:

Toric: A toric contact lens contains an additional correction for astigmatism. These lenses will have a strength for cylinder power (cyl) as well as an axis that describes the position of the astigmatism.

Astigmatism: Astigmatism refers to the curvature of the cornea, which is the front surface of the eye. Ideally, the front of the cornea would have a uniform curvature like a basketball cut in half. People with astigmatism have a cornea that is curved more like a football cut in half. Astigmatism causes a distortion or shadowing in vision, sort of like the effect of a funhouse mirror.

Multifocal: Multifocal contact lenses are designed to give clear vision at all distances including far away, computer screen range, and close reading. Most people start to need additional correction to focus on near objects sometime around their 40th birthday. This is a normal condition that happens to everyone, and is called presbyopia.

Presbyopia: Presbyopia is the eye condition that occurs at about age 40 that makes it more difficult to read up close and see close objects. Some contact lenses are designed to provide bifocal or multifocal correction for people who have presbyopia.

Power (PWR): The power of the lens can also be referred to as the sphere power or sphere. This is the strength of the lens that is needed to correct the amount of nearsightedness or farsightedness. Nearsighted people have minus (-) powered lenses, farsighted people have plus (+) powered lenses. Nearsightedness, or myopia, means it is easier to see nearby objects and far away objects. Farsightedness, or hyperopia, means it is easier to see far away than up close.

Base curve (BC): The base curve of a contact lens describes the shape of the curvature of the lens, and is designed to closely match the curvature of the front of the eye (the cornea).

Diameter (DIA): The diameter of a contact lens describes the size of the lens.

Brand: Every different brand of contact lens will have different materials and fitting characteristics and can fit differently and feel different on the eye.

OD: OD is the abbreviation used for right eye, which in Latin is “oculus dexter.”

OS: OS is the abbreviation used for left eye, which in Latin is “oculus sinister.”

OU: OU is the abbreviation used for both eyes, which in Latin is “oculus uterque.

Learning to wear contact lenses

 How do I put in and take out my contact lenses? What else do I need to know about putting them in and taking them out?

How to put in your contacts (or if you’d rather watch the video, go here):

1. Be sure that you have thoroughly washed your hands and rinsed off all the soap. Dry your hands on a lint-free towel.

2. Pull the stopper in the sink drain or put a washcloth over the drain to be sure that the lens does not get lost down the drain if accidentally dropped.

3. Remove the contact lens from the solution and put it on the very end of your index finger on your dominant hand so that all the edges of the lens are up away from the finger.

4. Check to make sure the lens is not inside out. The edges of the lens should curve straight up like a mixing bowl. If the lens is inside out, the edges will tend to bend over like the rim of a saucer.

5. With your middle finger of the opposite hand, reach down from your forehead and hold the upper lashes of your right eye up against your brow bone.

6. With the lens still on the end of your index finger, use the middle finger of that same hand to pull down on the lashes on your lower eyelid to open your eye as wide as possible.

7. Looking directly into the mirror, slowly bring the lens toward the colored part of your eye. Try to keep both eyes open – if you are closing one eye, the other will want to close too.

8. Gently touch the contact to the center of the colored part of the eye. Once the contact lens touches the front of the eye, slowly move your finger away.

9. Ideally, the lens will stick to the eye, but sometimes it may stick to your finger. If the lens sticks to your finger, try to touch the lens to the front of the eye again. If it keeps sticking to your finger, try to dry your finger off a little.

10. Once the lens is on your eye, look up and down and side to side slowly to help smooth the lens onto the eye before letting go of your eyelids. Release your lower lid first and then the upper lid and gently close your eye.

11. Try not squint or squeeze your eyes closed during this process. Forcing your eye closed will tend to eject the lens from the eye.

12. Looking straight ahead while putting in the lens allows it to center on the eye more quickly, but some people have a hard time looking straight ahead while inserting lenses. For these people, it might be easier to look up and place the lens on the lower white of the eye and then use their finger to slide the lens into place on the center of the eye.

13. Repeat this process for the left eye.

How to take out your contacts (or if you’d rather watch the video, go here):

1. Be sure that your hands are clean, rinsed and dried.

2. With the middle finger of your non-dominant hand, reach down from your forehead and pull the lashes of your upper eyelid up against the bone at the top of the eye socket.

3. With the middle finger of your dominant hand, pull down on the lower lashes to open the eye as wide as possible.

4. Using your thumb and index finger, gently pinch the bottom edge of the contact lens. If you can’t see the edge, it should be just outside the colored part of your eye.

5. If the lens feels like it is sticking to your eye, try to moisten your fingers a little with your contact lens solution to help the lens stick to your fingers. It may also help to put a drop of solution or rewetting drops into your eye before removal.

6. Once the lens is removed, put it in the palm of your hand and squirt it with contact lens solution. Gently rub the lens into your palm with your opposite index finger.

7. Fill your contact lens case 2/3 full of contact lens solution and place the lens into the case so that it is covered by solution.

 What is it supposed to feel like when I put my contact lenses in and take them out? Is what I’m feeling normal?

When you wear contact lenses for the first time, it is normal to be able to feel the lenses in your eyes. There is sometimes an initial sensation that feels like you have an eyelash in your eye. There may be a slight burning sensation at first and your eyes might feel a little sensitive. They might water.

Most of these symptoms will resolve within a few minutes of wearing your lenses. Some people will always have a slight awareness that the lenses are in, but most people don’t notice it anymore after they get used to them.

Contact lenses should not be painful when they are in or after they are taken out. If you have eye pain, extreme light sensitivity, significant burning or persistent redness or blurred vision, talk to your eye doctor immediately.

 How long will it take to get used to my contacts?

Most people get used to the feel of contact lenses within the first few days of wearing them, and it tends to get better each day. It also takes a week or two to really get good at putting them in and taking them out. When it gets easier to put them in and take them out, they will be more comfortable.

If your lenses are still not comfortable or your vision is not clear after the first week, your eye doctor may need to switch you to a different type of contact lens.

 How long can I wear my contacts?

Most people can comfortably wear their lenses all day (usually 16 hours a day). People who are more prone to dry eyes might have to limit their wearing time some, taking them out earlier in the day. Some contacts are better for longer wear than others, so if you don’t feel like you are able to wear lenses as long as you would like, you may want to try a different lens.

All lenses have a specific replacement schedule of how many days you can wear them before they should be thrown away. This is usually every day, every 14 days, or every 30 days.

 How many hours per day can I wear contacts?

As long as you are not experiencing any dryness or discomfort, it is safe to wear your lenses all day. For some people this may only be 8 hours, and for others it may be 18 hours. It is always best to give your eyes as much of a break from wearing the lenses as possible, so taking them out a few hours before bed is recommended.

 How can I tell if my contacts are inside out?

It can be difficult to tell if lenses are inside out, especially when you are new to wearing contacts. If you put the lens on your finger so that all the edges are up, the edges of the lens should point straight up like a mixing bowl. If the lens is inside out, the edge will want to fold over and out slightly like a saucer.

Another way to tell is to pinch the lens gently with your fingers. If the lens easily folds up like a taco, it is right side up. If the lens doesn’t fold in on itself, then it is inside out.

Some lenses have markings on the lens that you can read to tell if they are inside out, but these vary from one lens brand to another, and they can be difficult to find.

Read more here.

 How often am I supposed to replace my contact lenses?

Each contact lens has a very specific replacement schedule based on lens material, the oxygen transmission of the lens and the ability of the lens to resist deposits. The most common types of disposable lenses on the market today are designed to be replaced either every day, every two weeks or every month.

 Can I wear contact lenses in the shower?

Wearing contacts in the shower increases the risk of getting water in them, which could contaminate the lenses and cause an infection. Showering with contacts can cause them to get rinsed out of the eye and lost. It is always safer to remove them when showering. Read more here.

Caring for your contacts

 What are the basics on how to care for my contact lenses?

Be sure to always wash your hands before putting in or taking out your contact lenses.

When you take the lenses out at night, give them a rinse with solution and a little rub before putting them in to soak overnight.

Be sure to use the solution that your doctor recommends for your particular lenses and use fresh solution to soak them in every night. Never reuse solution.

Never rinse or soak your lenses in tap water.

Change your contact lens case every 3 months.

Replace your contacts as prescribed by your doctor. Even if the lenses still feel fine, the risk of serious complications greatly increases if you over wear them.

Never sleep in your contacts unless your doctor has specifically prescribed your lenses for overnight wear.

Read more here.

 Can I use water instead of solution to clean my contacts?

No, you should never use water with soft contact lenses. The lenses will absorb whatever liquid that they are placed in, and they are not designed to absorb water. Water also contains impurities that can contaminate the lenses causing infections. You also should not use any other fluid such as saliva to moisturize the lenses. Read more here.

 Which type of contact lens solution is best?

The best type of contact lens solution for most disposable soft contact lenses is a multi-purpose solution. Some multi-purpose solutions are better to use with particular lens materials, so it is best to ask your doctor which solutions are recommended. Multi-purpose solutions are designed to clean, soak, rinse and disinfect your lenses so that you don’t need multiple bottles of solutions. Sterile saline can be used to rinse the contact lenses, but it will not clean and disinfect the lenses, which can make you more prone to infection. Read more here.

 How often should I replace my contact lens case? Why do I need to replace it?

You should replace your contact lens case every 3 months. Dirty contact lens cases are one of the most common causes of severe contact lens related eye infections. The case can get contaminated and can then contaminate the lenses themselves.

Also be sure to rinse out the case every morning after removing the contacts and never re-use solution. Read more about replacing and cleaning your contact lens case here.

 Are my contacts safe after being out in the extreme cold or heat?

Yes, contact lenses can tolerate a wide range of temperature extremes. Be sure to allow them to get to room temperature before putting them in your eyes.

Being active in contacts

 Can I swim in my contact lenses?

Swimming in contacts can significantly increase your risk of eye infection. The contact lenses will absorb some of the water that you are swimming in and this may contaminate them. Hot tubs are particularly risky for contact lens wear, as some of the common bacteria found in hot tubs can cause very dangerous eye infections. Read more here.

 Can I wear contact lenses for sports?

Absolutely. Contact lenses are a fantastic option for people who are active in sports. Contact lenses will not steam up when you sweat or slide down your nose like glasses do. Contacts are also much safer to wear for sports than glasses, because you don’t have to worry about them getting broken by a speeding ball or a flying elbow.

There used to be more of a concern about contact lenses popping out of your eyes while playing sports. This was more common in the past with hard lenses than it is with the soft disposable lenses that are most frequently prescribed today.

Daily disposable contact lenses are a great option for people who just want to wear them for workouts, running or other sports.

Possible side effects

 Can a contact lens get stuck behind your eye?

The eye is pretty tightly sealed all around, so it is not possible for a contact lens to go behind the eye. It is possible, however, for the contact lens to get lodged under the eyelids. Usually when this happens, the lens will gradually work itself out. If you have a lens that you can’t remove, your eye doctor will be able to retrieve it from under the lid.

 Will contacts give me headaches?

Contact lenses should not cause an increase in headaches. You may be more prone to headaches with the contact at first, because they can take some time to get used to. This should not last more than the first few days. If you are experiencing frequent headaches with your contact lenses, be sure to see your eye doctor.

 Will contact lenses give me dry eyes?

Some people do experience dryness with contact lenses, but this is much less common with newer contact lens materials and solutions. If you’ve experienced this, try switching to a lens that is designed to reduce the symptoms of dry eye. If you are experiencing dryness issues, a doctor can prescribe a dry eye treatment program to help alleviate the dryness. Read more here.

 Will contacts damage my eyes?

Contact lenses are extremely safe and effective when you properly wear and care for them. There is significant risk of damage to the eyes, however, when contacts are not worn appropriately. Wearing lenses that were not prescribed by your doctor, sleeping in lenses, and wearing them longer than the recommended replacement schedule will significantly increase the risk for eye damage.

Children and contact lenses

 Can my child wear contact lenses?

Many children do very well with contacts. There is not a specific age for how young a child can be before they start wearing them. Just make sure your child is responsible enough to take care of them and to insert and remove them on their own. Children who are active in sports, have very high amounts of correction, or who suffer from self-esteem issues often do better in contacts at an earlier age.

 How old does a child need to be to wear contacts?

Sometimes it is medically necessary to fit infants in contact lenses, so they can be worn at any age. For most kids, however, they just need to be at an age that they are motivated to put the contacts in and take them out on their own. They should also be responsible enough to take care of them.

Many 5 and 6 year olds have done very well with contacts, but 10 or 12 is usually a good age for kids to start wearing them. Children who are active in sports and who have very strong prescriptions tend to do better in contacts at an earlier age.

Contacts and glasses

 What are the advantages of wearing both contact lenses and glasses?

Wearing either contact lenses or glasses allows you to change your look for different occasions. Alternating glasses and contact lens wear also gives your eyes a break from contacts and can keep you from over wearing them. It is always good to have a backup pair of glasses, even if you wear contact lenses most of the time. If you have an injury or infection and can’t wear contacts, you won’t have to settle for blurred vision.

 I just need glasses for reading. Are contact lenses an option for me?

Yes. If you have good distance vision without correction and just need to wear correction for close work, you would probably do very well with a multifocal contact lens. These lenses would allow you to still see clearly at a distance, but would give you a little extra help for computer work and reading so you don’t have to constantly search for those pesky reading glasses. Read more here.

 Why should I wear contact lenses instead of glasses?

Contact lenses are a great option for many glasses wearers to give them freedom from having to wear glasses all the time. Contacts are great for people who are active in sports because they won’t steam up, slide down or get knocked off. Contact lenses allow you to wear any sunglasses you like without having to have prescription lenses in them. Wearing contacts instead of glasses can give you a new look and change your appearance.

Your Prescription

 How can I get a copy of my contact lens prescription?

You should always receive a copy of your prescription when it’s first issued and whenever it’s updated/renewed after that. If you lose it, just call the doctor that issued it and he/she give you another copy. All doctors are legally required to provide you with your written prescription without charging you for it.

If you used 1-800 Contacts Online Prescription Service your prescription is always available in your Rx Wallet at Read more here.

 Can I use my glasses prescription for contacts?

No. A contact lens prescription is different from a glasses prescription.  The prescription must contain information about the size, shape, material and fit of the contact lens because it must fit on the front of the eye itself. Even the strength of the contact lenses can vary from glasses because the optics of contact lenses work differently. Read more here.

 Can I buy contact lenses without a prescription?

No. A prescription is required to buy contacts. Contact lenses are a medical device, and it is critical that the ones you use are compatible with your particular eyes. Read more here.

 Why do I have to buy the specific contacts lenses that the doctor put on my prescription?

Short version: It’s the law in the United States. You need a valid prescription to purchase contact lenses, and the brand is part of that prescription. Slightly longer version: If you’d like a different lens, ask an eye doctor to help you find some alternatives.

Cost of contact lenses

 How much do contact lenses cost?

The cost of contact lenses varies depending on the type of correction that you need, how often they need to be replaced, and the material. Lenses that correct astigmatism or have correction for distance and close vision are more expensive than a basic lens for nearsightedness, for example.

Annual lens cost can vary from about $150 to $750 and above for some of the more specialty products on the market. Read more here.

 Why are some contact lenses so much more expensive than others?

There is a great deal of variation in the price of contacts. Generally speaking, lenses that are designed to be replaced more frequently (daily disposable lenses) are more expensive than lenses that last longer (monthly lenses). Newer technology contact lenses also tend to be more expensive, but often have better oxygen transmission and can be more comfortable and healthy on the eyes. Read more about the cost of contacts here.

 How and where can I buy more contacts in the future?

When you are ready to buy more contacts, you can easily order more lenses from us. You can order through our website, mobile app, or you can call us on the phone. Whatever method you use, we’ll make the process quick and easy. If you send us a copy of your prescription, we can start your order right away. If you don’t have a copy of your prescription, we’ll contact your doctor’s office to verify it for you and get your lenses shipped as quickly as possible. If your Rx has expired, you can try 1-800 Contacts Online Prescriptions to renew your prescription.

The eye exam

 Why is an examination for contacts more expensive than if I just wear glasses?

If it’s your first time being fitted for contact lenses, there are measurements the doctor needs to take and they’ll also take the time to instruct you how to wear your contacts. Even if you’ve worn contacts for years, an examination for a contact lens wearer takes more of the doctor’s time. For someone who wears contacts, the fit of the lenses needs to be evaluated on the eye to ensure that the eye is healthy. This sometimes requires a follow up visit to be sure that the lenses fit well and to make any further necessary adjustments in the prescription.

 Why do I need a contact lens examination every year? I am not having any problems with the lenses that I have now.

In the United States you must have a valid prescription to buy contact lenses (it’s the law). Most contact lens prescriptions expire every year except for a few states that expire after two years – see here.

 Why do I need a contact lens fitting? Can’t I just order the lens I think is best?

The purpose of a contact lens fitting is so that a doctor can make sure the lenses are fitting properly on your eye. If it’s your first time being fitted for contact lenses, there are measurements the doctor needs to make and they’ll also take the time to instruct you how to wear your contacts. The brand of contact lenses is part of your prescription and brands have different materials, edge designs, etc. Since some lenses work much better on some eyes than others, it’s important to have a doctor prescribe you new contacts.

Every contact lens brand has different fitting characteristics, materials, and edge designs. Some lenses work much better on some eyes than others, and the only way to evaluate how the lens fits is to examine the lens on the eye under a microscope.

Colored contact lenses

 How do I get colored contacts?

Colored contact lenses can be a really fun and exciting way to change your look. Even if you don’t need any vision correction, you’ll need a prescription from a doctor for colored contacts. That may seem a little silly, but contact lenses are a medical device. Anytime you put something on your eye you want to be sure that it is going to be safe and healthy for you.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of colored and decorative lenses that are illegally sold online, at beauty shops, flea markets, or elsewhere that are not FDA approved. Always have a valid prescription for colored contacts and only purchase what is prescribed from a reputable source.

Other questions

 Do bifocal contact lenses exist?

Absolutely! Contact lens technology has progressed in the last few years to the point that we now have several very good bifocal and multifocal lens designs on the market. These lenses provide most patients with excellent vision at long distances, for computer use, and for reading. And to top it all off, they are quite affordable and comfortable to wear! Read more here.

 I’ve been told in the past that I can’t wear contacts because I have astigmatism. Are there any options for me?

For many years, contact lenses that corrected astigmatism just did not work well and were uncomfortable to wear. That is not the case today. We have lots of excellent lenses on the market that provide great vision for most patients, even if they have astigmatism.

These lenses are much healthier on the eye and more comfortable than ever before. Even if you were told that you couldn’t wear lenses in the past, you have a lot more options now. Read more here.

Updated Dec 19th, 2014

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