7 Tips to Adjust to Your New Contact Lenses

Whether you’re a first-time wearer or a contact lens connoisseur, it may take some time to adjust to a new pair. Try these tips for a smooth transition.

Person putting on contact lenses

Whether you’re a contact lens newbie or switching to a different prescription or type of lens, getting used to a new pair can be a bit tough. The good news? There are many ways to make your adjustment a lot easier — and faster.

Here’s what you need to know about adjusting to different types of contact lenses, plus seven tips to help you make a successful transition.

Did you know that contact lens prescriptions need to be renewed every year? Find an exam time that fits your schedule!

What to Expect if You’re Wearing Contacts for the First Time

Going from wearing eyeglasses to contacts not only means changing your look but also having to get used to the sensation of an unfamiliar object positioned on the surface of your eye. You will also need to adapt to a new routine.

Something you might notice right away is that you have a wider field of vision. “Contacts generally provide better peripheral vision and depth perception than glasses,” says Jennifer Mai, O.D., an optometrist at America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

One of the biggest hurdles for new lens wearers is learning how to insert and remove their lenses and building it into a daily routine. “Those new to contacts will need to incorporate their eye care into their day, adding time to their morning and nighttime routine for insertion and removal,” says Dr. Mai.

Press play for a quick tutorial:

What to Expect if You’re Switching to a Different Type of Contact Lens

Switching from one type of lens to another can make contact lens life easier and less time-consuming.

“People who go from a reusable to a daily disposable lens will have less to their daily routine now, as daily disposables don’t need to be cleaned after removal in preparation for the next day,” says Dr. Mai. (Daily lenses are also thinner and are generally less noticeable than a monthly contact lens, she says. Here’s a handy guide to the differences between dailies and monthlies.)

However, it can also work in the reverse. For example, patients using reusable lenses will need to get in the habit of cleaning the lenses nightly, she adds.

Lens wearers switching to a different material — whether from hard to soft or from one soft lens brand to another — may notice a difference, too, says Dr. Mai. “Soft lenses have better initial comfort than hard lenses,” she says.

What to Expect if You’re Transitioning from Single Vision to Multifocal

Single vision contacts typically work to correct one vision problem, says Dr. Mai, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness.[link to the new farsightedness HUB, part of this batch]

Monovision and multifocal lenses correct vision when you have trouble seeing both near and far. This is called presbyopia, and it’s a common issue that occurs as you grow older.

With a monovision lens prescription, you’ll wear a contact lens in one eye for distance correction, while the other eye has a contact lens that helps you see close-up objects.

“Monovision contact wearers may experience an adaptation period the first few days, as their brain learns to focus on different distances with one eye at a time,” says Dr. Mai.

Multifocal contacts, on the other hand, combine far and near vision correction in both lenses.  Your optometrist will determine which type you need based on your contact lens eye exam.

Tips to Make Your Adjustment Period Smoother

If you’re having trouble adjusting to your new contact lenses, don’t get discouraged. Be patient with yourself and try these tips for a smooth transition.

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Tip #1: Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions

If you’re a first-time contact lens wearer, your eye doctor will show you how to insert and remove your lenses. They will also give you important instructions about how to wear and care for them. Following their advice will help make your transition period easier.

Your doctor will want to see you in a week for a follow-up contact lens exam[link to the B4 article on follow-up contact lens exams, when live] to see how your lenses are working for you. Be sure to schedule your next appointment before you leave.

And pay close attention to how your contact lenses feel throughout the week. Can you see well? Are they comfortable? If not, your optometrist may want to try a different brand or type of contact lens.

Tip #2: Practice Proper Contact Lens Hygiene

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 40% to 90% of people who wear contacts do not properly follow the care instructions for their lenses. Improper contact lens care is linked to outbreaks of serious eye infections.

Taking care of your lenses means knowing how to store and clean them. Your America’s Best optometrist can recommend the right contact lens solution and storage container for your particular lenses.

This may be a no-brainer, but before touching your contacts and eyes, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and dry them with a clean towel. Otherwise, you risk dirt or particles getting onto your lenses and entering your eye.

Tip #3: Allow Yourself Time to Adjust

Transitioning to wearing new or different contacts can take time, as your eyes and brain acclimate to the lenses.

“Typically, it can take between a few hours and a couple days to adjust to your contact lenses,” says Dr. Mai. People who are new to contact lenses may have an even longer adjustment period because they also must learn to insert and remove their lenses, she adds.

If you’re brand new to wearing contacts, it may take a few tries until you feel comfortable putting them in and taking them out. Allow yourself an extra 5 to 10 minutes in your daily routine to avoid rushing the process and to factor in time to correctly clean your lenses. With practice, it will soon become second nature.

Tip #4: Know About Possible Side Effects

You may experience eye strain, dizziness, or headaches as you get used to wearing your new contact lenses. These issues should resolve once your eyes get used to the lenses. However, if these problems persist for longer than two days, contact your doctor.

“When things aren’t working for you, such as if your vision isn’t sufficient, you’re having comfort issues, or if the lens maintenance schedule is not compatible with your lifestyle, communicate these issues to your doctor,” advises Dr. Mai.

Tip #5: Give Your Eyes a Break During the Day

Wearing your new contacts for longer periods of time won’t necessarily speed up the adjustment process. If your eyes are feeling irritated during the day, removing your lenses for a while can allow them a much-needed rest.

“I definitely encourage patients to wear the contacts as long as they can to adapt to the vision, but to remove them for comfort issues,” says Dr. Mai. “New lens wearers are sometimes advised to ramp up their wear time, starting at a few hours and increasing this wear time daily.”  

It might be a good idea to switch to wearing your prescription glasses for a bit if you take your lenses out. Ask your optometrist about how long you should use your contacts in the very beginning, and how long of a break you should take.

Tip #6: Don’t Sleep in Your Contact Lenses

Unless prescribed by your doctor, avoid sleeping with your contact lenses. The CDC warns that sleeping with your contacts in your eyes has been shown to cause up to eight times increased risk of an eye infection.

Sleeping in your contact lenses can also cause dry eye. Wearing your lenses while you sleep deprives the eye of an important supply of oxygen, and this increases the symptoms of dryness.

Tip #7: Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water helps with tear production, which keeps the surface of your eyes moist and healthy. Since dry eye is common in people who wear contacts, you want to make sure you’re keeping your system properly hydrated.

The American Optometric Association recommends drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day to help avoid dry eye and keep your eyes sufficiently lubricated.

See our sources:
Contact lens facts: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Contact lens safety tips: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Dry eye overview: American Optometric Association