This week, I tried contacts for the first time. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 13, and I was ready to try something new. (I’m still afraid of the laser surgery thing.) Confident in my endeavor, I ordered a year’s supply of the latest and greatest soft contact lens, and scheduled my training with the optician for Tuesday.
To get started, the optician instructed me in the proper care and cleaning of the lenses, and then explained the technique for putting them in. It seemed simple enough, except for the fact the small matter of the movable folds of skin and muscle charged with protecting my eyeballs.
You see, it turns out I have very little control over my eyelids. They kept blinking, quite on their own, at the very moment I was about to put the lens in contact with my eyeball. Each time the lens was folded neatly in half and I had to pull it apart. After a few times, I had had to rinse it in solution to keep it from drying out.
After about a half hour of trying to get the right side in, the optician lost patience and put the lens in for me by prying my eye open. Once it was in, it felt great, except for the fact that my eyelids and conjunctiva were irritated from all the friction with my fingers. We practiced taking the lens out once, which was also an awkward challenge, and took another several minutes before my trainer intervened.
We then proceeded to the left side, which proved even more arduous. Whereas the right upper eyelid just blinked at the last second, the left eyelids would snap shut like a bear trap if I even got close. I tried relaxing, I tried looking at different points of focus in the mirror. I simply couldn’t override my eye’s self-preservation reflex.
The optician ended up putting the left one in for me, too.
So I left the store with both lenses in, and feeling pretty good. Finally! I was free of glasses. My nose and ears would no longer need to do double-duty as structural elements. My walk back to the office was great.
When I got there, I sat at my desk and realized I could hardly read the text on my computer screen. When the sun came around to my window, I realized the light that had previously been tolerable with the blinds down was making me squint with some pain. Oh well, nothing I couldn’t get used to.
My instructions were to leave the lenses in for 4 hours on the first day, and to add an hour each day after that until I was wearing them all day. In terms of comfort, this was going to be easy. I could hardly feel these fancy new soft lenses. My work day turned out to be quite hectic, due in no small part to my extended lunch break as I struggled through the lens training. Also, Claire dropped off Leo at work because she was meeting with my coworker and friend Andrea for a girl’s night out.
By the time Leo and I got home, I was crowding the 4-hour mark. Getting him settled down in front of the TV took a bit more time. My contacts had been in for four and half hours before I set upon the task of removing them.
The right side took me about 30 minutes and multiple failed attempts. I knew I had succeeded when I spotted the crumpled lens hanging off my lower eyelid. I put it in the solution and got started with the left side.
As before, the left side was more difficult than the right. Way more difficult. I worked for about an hour, prying my increasingly irritated eyelids apart, and trying to grip the lens on my eyeball. I was becoming insensed. I couldn’t believe the lack of control I had over my own body. I was ORDERING the damn eyelids to stay open, but they kept struggling against the grip of my fingers. Tears would stream, and my fingers would slide off. The lens stayed firmly planted on my eyeball.
By this time, of course, Leo had lost patience with his bouncy chair and had begun to scream. The lens had been in over an hour longer than it was supposed to have been, and my eye was killing me. Not so much from the lens itself, but from my failed attempts to grab it. I couldn’t do this on my own, and Claire was still out with the girls.
I started yelling cusswords at my stupid eyelids out of frustration. Leo got scared and cranked up his volume. I felt awful.
I thought of driving back to the optician’s, but a phone call confirmed they were closed. I thought of going to the ER and asking a doctor to take the offending foreign object out of my eye. Unfortunately, both these options would have involved driving with half-corrected vision with a hysterical three-month-old in the back seat.
So I called Amanda, Claire’s cousin and good friend. She was a contact lens wearer for years before she took the laser surgery plunge, so I figured she could help. Fortunately, she agreed to come over. I used the time waiting for her arrival to calm Leo down and to throw back a couple of beers in the hope they’d help relax my evil eye.
Amanda watched me try a couple more removal attempts, and was quite generous in refraining from laughter. Since I couldn’t see what I was doing (my right eye was starting to close in sympathy now), I didn’t realize my eye was rolling up every time I forced my lids apart. I gave up and asked Amanda to take it out for me. I think it grossed her out, but swell gal that she is, she removed it.
With both lenses out, I thanked Amanda profusely and put my good ‘ol glasses back on.
I am never, ever, going to wear contacts again.