Contact lenses: Like tampons for your eyes

I recently joined the full-time optical club. I was wearing glasses for reading and computer work for seven years until one day an optometrist figured out the reason I was so clumsy (well one of) is that my long distance vision is minimal (but my short distance vision is fine; those other glasses were completely unnecessary). Six months later with the complete opposite glasses I can actually see and am much more coordinated. Long story short I now know that I need glasses for activities that aren’t exactly glasses-friendly (e.g. dancing, boxing, backflips*). Glasses wearers will appreciate the struggle that is wearing glasses as outlined here.

After getting used to my glasses and finally coming around to the idea that contacts (and therefore regularly poking myself in my eye) were necessary for sport I went to see my friendly local Specsavers**. To be honest the fear of having glasses smashed into my eyeballs during boxing largely contributed to this development.

I felt rather nervous before attending the appointment. Eyes just aren’t meant to have pieces of plastic slapped onto them. It’s weird. I couldn’t help but think that this reminded me a lot of what my friends and I went through in adolescence with tampons. So for years society has told me not to touch myself (completely different story to what boys get told about their bodies) and now you’re telling me I need to put this pointy cotton thing in my vagina? And it stays there? Ew! (For a hilarious take on learning to use tampons read this) I told this to my male friend who said, ‘Are tampons always all over the place when you don’t need them and then never around when you do need them? Because contact lenses do that.” Yes! That’s exactly what they do. And bobby pins; they do that too.

It turns out I was extremely comfortable with touching my eye (which I am oddly proud of). What I don’t like doing is holding my eyelids apart. A lovely optical assistant held my hand through the whole ordeal where I successfully learnt to put contact lenses in and out of my eyes in under thirty minutes (he had mentioned that some people take up to an hour and half – I did not want to be poking my eyes for this long). By the end I felt like we had been through a serious emotional journey and was a little disappointed that he didn’t ask for my contact details so we could be life-long friends.

Ballet and boxing are now much more enjoyable without the fear of my glasses flinging off my face or being smashed into my face. I do find the lenses get a bit dry on my eyes after a couple of hours but it’s perfectly bearable and a small sacrifice to avoid the aforementioned smashing of glasses into face.

This might seem like an odd thing to write about but before I went to the appointment I did a quick Google search to see if anyone else had and I didn't find anything useful. Often when I’m about to do something that I’m not familiar with I will read about other people having done it or will talk to those who have (I also asked my partner many questions about his experience of using contact lenses). Research has shown that many people consider the experiences of others to be important when making decisions about their healthcare; sometimes even more so than medical information (for better or for worse). Perhaps it’s a human thing to want to know that you are not alone in your experience; you’re just like everyone else and that’s OK (comforting even).  

Kate xx

*I cannot backflip (outside of a pool) and have never attempted to. I just like having three examples and couldn’t think of another one.

**Please note that this post is not sponsored by Specsavers. I am in no way important enough to have people want to pay me for my opinion of their services and products. In fact the service was somewhat less than satisfactory at first with all staff members having little idea about the appointment time required for a client to be fitted for lenses and taught about how best to use them. But aside from this they were all friendly and helpful, particularly the assistant who taught me how to use insert and remove the lenses.

Image via Death to the Stock Photo