Congratulations on getting your first pair of contact lenses! If you’re like most people, you’ll probably spend the first few days marveling at small visual details that you never noticed before—like dew on the grass and small specks of color on bright green leaves.

It’s a very exciting time but, as with anything new, it might be a little intimidating too. After all, contact lenses are high-tech medical devices and your vision is one of your most valued senses. As such, it’s important to make good choices for the health and comfort of your eyes. Here are five tips designed to put you on the path to a lifetime of success with your new contact lenses.

1. Relax. Lots of people worry that they’ll scratch their eyes while putting their lenses on or—worse—that the contact lens will get stuck behind their eye. Relax. Applying and removing lenses might make you nervous at first, but as awkward as it may seem, there is no need to be afraid to touch your eye as long as your hands are clean. Plus, the inside of your eyelids are connected to the back of your eye, so your lenses can’t possibly slip into an abyss.

2. Keep lenses clean. For monthly/2-week products, don’t take shortcuts with lens cleaning. Your doctor will give you instructions that are specific to the lens care regime that is chosen for you. For example, if you are told to use a multipurpose solution every time you remove your lenses, you should rub and rinse and then place them into fresh solution. Don’t just top off the solution that’s already in the case. When you put your lenses on in the morning, empty out the case completely, rinse with fresh solution and leave it uncapped and upside down on a paper towel to air dry. Your lens case should be replaced every 3 months. Interested in a fresh pair of lenses every morning that doesn’t require cleaning? Ask your doctor for a daily disposable, such as MyDay® daily disposable or clariti® 1 day. These lenses can be thrown out every night and exchanged for a fresh new pair each morning, eliminating cleaning and storage concerns.

3. Properly dispose of contact lenses and packaging.

  • Contact lenses:  Dispose of your contact lenses in a waste/garbage receptacle and follow guidance of your local sanitation authorities for further disposal – do not place contact lenses into drainage systems!

Depending on local recycling/sanitation vendors, the following can be included alongside other recyclable materials for regular pickup in ordinary bins. One of the most important tenants of recycling is to keep similar materials together, which makes sorting easier and prevents cross-contamination. Please check with your local government office and/or service contractor to ensure acceptance.

  • Outer paperboard cartons: made from standard paperboard materials which are classified as recyclable paper (#21 PAP or #23 PAP, depending on location) in a typical  household collection
  • Individual plastic blisters: classified as a #5/PP plastic, a designation similar to yogurt cups and hummus containers
  • Foil blister covers:  remove the foil from contact lens blisters, then place collected foils together in a small ball in the recycling stream, allowing a better opportunity for it to be sorted as part of a municipality’s process

Interested in being more sustainable? Ask your doctor about the first net plastic neutral contact lens: clariti® 1 day1.

4. Follow your doctor’s recommendations. Use only the products that are recommended by your eye doctor. Don’t substitute lens care product without checking with your doctor first. The solution you have was chosen specifically for your type of lens, so don’t make assumptions based on broadly-defined packaging labels. It’s also important to keep your appointments. Whatever follow-up schedule your doctor sets, stick to it.

5. Adhere to the prescribed wearing and replacement schedule. Don’t try to write your own rules. Wear your lenses only for the amount of time that your doctor says is safe and replace the lenses according to schedule. Don’t try to stretch out the life of your lenses an extra week or extra day. Also, unless you were specifically prescribed continuous wear lenses, you should never sleep in your contacts.

Learning how to do anything new takes time. In fact, it may take about a week until you adapt to your new life with contact lenses and feel truly confident2. But, before you know it, contact lenses will become a valued part of your life.