“The Taco Test”
Contact lenses can be difficult to handle for a variety of reasons and even for the most experienced of contact lens wearers! Here are some tips to help you insert, remove and handle your lenses.
How to tell right-side up from inside out
Your lens should be placed on the finger right-side-up before placing it in the eye. There are several ways to determine sidedness and here are two of them:
Place the lens on the finger so that the entire 360 degrees of lens edge do not contact the finger surface.
Pinch the lens together. If the edges head toward each other (so that the lens takes the shape of a taco shell) the lens is positioned properly for insertion. If the edges fold over on the fingers or turn outwards (like the brim of a saucer), the lens is inside out and must be flipped and repositioned.
Inserting the Contact Lens in your Eye
If the contact lens sticks to your fingers and you cannot set it upright on your finger or if the lens sits properly on your finger but will not release into your eye, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
A significant percentage of a contact lens’s weight is water. Being water-like, they stick to wet surfaces and things that are moist. If you load your lens up with saline before getting ready to insert the lens, your finger gets wetter than your eye and the lens will tend to stay stuck to the finger. Try drying the part of your finger that the lens sits on by rubbing it on your wrist. If you dry it on a paper towel or tissue, you may introduce small, fuzzy foreign objects from the tissue into your eye. The dryer your finger, the easier the lens will release into your eye. Sometimes after taking the lens out of it’s cleaning solution or saline, it just won’t handle well on your finger. You may want to try to lift up the lens with your other hand, dry the drop of moisture off the finger, and try again. Each time that you do this, the lens will get dryer, take it’s shape better and sit on your finger easier. You also will be able to tell the results of the “taco test” easier; as the lens gets dryer it also takes it’s shape better, but be careful not to let it get too dry, it may start to warp and need more saline solution.
Instructions for inserting a soft contact lens
- Wash your hands thoroughly using a pure soap that does not contain additives – anti-bacterial pump soap is the best. Be sure to rinse all soap off of your hands before handling contact lens. If necessary, use a fingernail brush to thoroughly clean the fingers and hands.
- Close or cover the drain when working over a basin. Dr. Glazier recommends putting a paper towel over the drain and the bottom of the sink.
- Place the lens, with the concave surface facing you, on the tip of your right index finger.
- Reach your left arm up over your head and use the middle finger of your left hand to pull the upper eyelid and eyelashes up tot he bone in the eyebrow.
- Place the middle finger of your right hand at the lower eyelid and pull it down.
- YOU MUST KEEP BOTH EYES OPEN WHILE INSERTING YOUR CONTACT LENSES; closing one eye will make the other eye want to close since they open and close together normally, and this may impede the insertion process.
- Slowly bring the right index finger, with the lens on it toward the eye. Gently place the lens on the eye. If this is not working for you, you may be off in the finger-to-eye coordination. Most people undershoot and actually try to put the lens on causing it to end up more on the lower eyelid, so if you are following these directions without success, try pushing the lens up a few millimeters when it is close to your eye, then bring it forward. It may feel awkward, but it is probably better centered this way to go on.
- Make sure your fingers are dry. REMEMBER - a lens sticks to wet surfaces (like the eye) better than dry surfaces, so if your finger is too wet, it will keep sticking to your finger and when you try to put it on the eye, it won’t adhere properly.
- Gently place the lens on the eye. DO NOT FORCE THE LENS ON THE EYE OR PRESS IT ON. This will cause the lens to fold and be rejected.
- Release the lower eyelid first, look up/down/left and right a few times, then slowly release the upper eyelid.
- Blink slowly several times. Cover your other eye and look at distant objects to make sure the lens is in place.
- Repeat the same procedure for the other eye. After inserting your lenses, rinse your contact lens case thoroughly with your rinsing solution and let it air dry.
Removing the Lens from your Eye
When removing the lens, it is important to remember from the section on inserting the lens that the lens being mostly water, sticks to wet things better than dry things. If you try to remove a wet contact lens in your eye with a dry finger, it can be difficult. Try wetting the ball of your finger with a drop of saline. If you use the wet part of that finger to touch the lens with, it will stick to the finger and come out easier when you try to pull it out! Always consult your doctor if the lens isn’t coming out of your eye easily after several tries.