18 Things That Happen When You Get Contacts As An Adult

Although I got my first pair of glasses late in high school, I didn’t actually start needing to wear them consistently until after college. That was when I began spending 8-plus hours a day in front of a computer, and when my distance vision officially went to hell. (My ophthalmologist told me the two things aren’t connected, but I’m still suspicious.) With driving at night becoming increasing risky, I upgraded my prescription and my frames, and officially joined the ranks of the four eyes.

For the most part, I don’t mind wearing glasses. But my vision started affecting my exercise routine. I typically just ditched the lenses before a workout, which isn’t ideal: When running, I wasn’t secure in my ability to see bumps and potholes. (Plus, I couldn’t take in the pretty sights I passed along the way.) At the gym, I couldn’t watch TV while I lifted. In classes, I had trouble seeing the instructors’ form unless I stood right in the front, which-sorry-I didn’t always want to do.

So finally, I took the plunge and got fitted for Acuvue Oasys 1-Days. The eye doctor I saw recommended them for a few reason: 1) They were easy to put in (more on that later); 2) you could toss them after using them, so you didn’t need to fiddle with lens solution; and 3) thanks to their tear-infused HydraLuxe Technology, they would stay comfortable even though I spent hours on a computer (which makes my eyes tired) and ran (which makes my eyes dry).

I love the lenses, but that’s not to say that the transition was seamless. As someone who harbored a near-pathological fear of touching my own eyeball, it would be general to say that my learning curve was steep. (Make sure you watch out for these 9 Mistakes You’re Making with Your Contact Lenses.)

1. You learn to get over the squeamishness of touching your eyeball.

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This isn’t so bad! It’s not even touching my eye, technically.

2. You redevelop the squeamishness of touching your eyeball.

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One of the first times I took a lens out, I swear to you, I pinched the white of my eyeball. *Dying.*

3. You spend hours trying to get them in.

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It’s sticking to my finger, but not to my eyeball. WTF?

4. You develop a preference toward one of your eyes.

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My right eye grabs onto contacts like a champ. Leftie? Total underachiever.

5. You walk outside into a miracle.

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Halfway through that first run, you’re like, “Wait-I can see the leaves on the trees!”

6. You suddenly realize you have to relearn how to do eye makeup.

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I’ve been letting strong frames be my eyeliner for years. And undereye concealer. And mascara.

7. The first time it takes under five minutes to put them in, you’re so proud.

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8. Then you realize you are actually only wearing one.

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When you find the other one on the ground. How?

9. You get paranoid about bacteria.

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Did I wash my hands thoroughly enough? Is something in my eye right now? I’ve read about this cornea-eating amoeba…

10. And also sweat.

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My doctor told me to always change into new contacts after swimming or showering. What about after sweating so hard it looks like you just swam?

11. You have an excuse to buy all new sunglasses.

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All my shades are prescription-and wearing them over contacts is not a good idea. (Not that I tried it…)

12. That feeling of your contact kind of flapping in the wind when you’re running.

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Is this normal?

13. You learn what “tired eyes” really means.

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Taking out my contact lenses at the end of a long day feels better than taking off my bra. For real.

14. You start checking everyone’s eyes to see if they too wear contacts.

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Whatever, at least it tricks you into making good eye contact.

15. You’re totally freaked out when your eyes momentarily go out of focus.

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What exactly is happening there, btw? Do they just… Move off my eye? Fold in half?

16. You fall asleep in your lenses and wake up ready to lose an eyeball.

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I read about this girl who left in her contacts for six months straight and an amoeba ate her eyeball. I became convinced that would be me.

17. You develop a newfound appreciation of skylines.

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Ahh, sweet, sweet distance vision.

18. And you start making strategic decisions about when to wear glasses.

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I call them my “power frames.”

  • By Mirel Ketchiff @mirelbee

Blurry Vision From Contacts? What the Reasons May Be

Table of Contents

  • What Causes Blurry Vision?
  • Blurry Vision With Contact Lenses
  • Regular Eye Exams

If you have blurry vision, you may think you need glasses or contact lenses. Refractive errors like nearsightedness or farsightedness require prescription lenses, and you may opt for the convenience of contacts. (Learn More)

There may be occasions when your vision becomes blurry while you are wearing your contact lenses. Mostly, this is not a serious problem, but in some instances, blurry vision while wearing contact lenses can indicate a medical problem. (Learn More)

Keeping your contact lenses clean and going to regular eye exams will reduce your risk for most problems with these corrective aids, however. (Learn More)

What Causes Blurry Vision?

The most likely cause of blurry vision is a refractive error.

Nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism all involve changes in the shape of your lens, which is right behind your pupil and responsible for refracting light onto the retina. If light does not refract correctly, your brain interprets the signals from the retina as blurry or double images. Wearing glasses or contact lenses are the most common ways to correct refractive errors.

There are also several medical conditions, from eye infections to high blood pressure, which contribute to blurry vision. Wearing contact lenses may improve vision if these conditions are well controlled, but they can exacerbate eye problems like infections. If an underlying medical condition goes undiagnosed, your visual acuity will not improve much with glasses or contacts.

If you wear contact lenses, it is important to get regular eye exams and keep up with your prescription. You should also make sure you are keeping your contacts clean to reduce the risk of infection.

If you experience blurry vision while wearing contact lenses, there may be several reasons for this problem, which range from issues that can be easily fixed to serious medical issues.

Blurry Vision With Contact Lenses

  • Old prescription: The most common reason your vision is blurry, even with contact lenses, is an outdated prescription. Refractive errors progress as you get older, so you need to keep up to date with the changes. Even if you only need a new prescription every five years, keeping up with this change means you will see clearly for longer.
  • New prescription: If you just updated your prescription, your eyes need to adjust. You may have become used to squinting, blinking, or moving your head to see better. With a new prescription, these subtle behaviors may contribute to a little eye strain. In two weeks or less, your eyes should adjust to the new prescription, and you will see clearly without trouble.
  • Astigmatism: If your vision is blurry at all distances, you may have astigmatism. This is caused by an irregularly shaped cornea, which means that fitting contact lenses can be more complicated. Your contact lens may move out of place more frequently, causing your vision to blur. You can blink the contact lens back into place or use eye drops to help; however, you should also talk to your optometrist or ophthalmologist about contact lenses designed for astigmatism.
  • Incorrect fit: There are other manufacturing reasons your contact lenses may not fit on your eyes, so you may want to try a few different brands to see which ones work best with your eyes. Brands that do not sit properly on your eyes can cause eye strain or make your vision blurry due to undercorrection.
  • Wearing them too long: Over the course of a day, your contact lenses will collect dirt and proteins from your eyes. Take them out when they become uncomfortable, and make sure to use appropriate contact lens cleaning solution. Keep them in that solution for several hours, usually overnight, so all the detritus is removed, and you can wear them again in the morning. Different types of contact lenses have different shelf-lives. For example, some contact lenses are made to be worn for only one day, while others can be worn for a full month. Make sure you know how long you can safely wear your contact lenses, and dispose of them when their shelf-life is over. Wearing them for longer increases the risk of infections and decreases the lenses’ effectiveness.
  • Allergies: If your eyes water too much or not enough due to allergic reactions, your contact lenses may not sit properly on your eyes and may not correct your vision well.
  • Dry eyes: If you have consistently dry eyes for any reason, you may need talk to your eye doctor about how best to wear contact lenses. You could apply eye drops a few times per day, or you may need to consider other options besides contact lenses, depending on how serious your dry eyes become. If your eyes are too dry, your contact lenses will not have a surface to float on, and they will not be able to work with the natural lens inside your eye to refract light very well.
  • Eye floaters: You may develop temporary spots, or floaters, that drift in and out of your field of vision. This may impact how well you see for a brief period. It might feel like your contact lenses are shifting in your eyes. However, eye floaters exist in the vitreous gel that makes up most of the middle of your eye, and they increase with age. Keeping your eyes healthy — including keeping your contact lenses clean and your prescription up to date — reduces the impact of floaters. If they suddenly get worse, you may have an underlying condition that needs treatment.
  • Eye infection: Blurry vision and eye irritation are two signs that you have an eye infection. Unclean contact lenses can cause eye infections; wearing contact lenses increases your risk of trapping pathogens or dirt in your eye; and wearing contact lenses for too long increases your risk of scratching or puncturing your eye, allowing bacteria or fungus through. If your eyes become irritated or red, itchy or swollen, or you develop discharge, stop wearing your contact lenses and go to your optometrist for treatment. Infections can cause long-term damage to your eye when left untreated, so get help immediately. Blurry vision, with or without contact lenses or glasses, can also indicate viral infections like herpes.
  • Cataracts: Blurry vision is one sign that you might be developing cataracts. However, you are not likely to notice this symptom until cataracts have progressed very far. If you go to regular eye appointments, your eye doctor is more likely to notice small spots or areas of cloudiness in your lens during an examination, and you may not have noticed any changes in your vision. Your eye doctor will monitor the progression of this condition, which can take decades to become serious. Correcting your vision with glasses is one approach to managing symptoms of cataracts. You may be able to wear contact lenses in the early stages of cataract development; however, contact lenses may be less effective than high-prescription glasses at some point.
  • Glaucoma: This is another serious eye condition that progresses to degrade your visual acuity. Unlike cataracts, glaucoma is caused by high fluid pressure in the eyes. One symptom may be blurry vision, even with contact lenses. Other symptoms include “tunnel vision” and blurriness in your peripheral vision. Again, going to regular eye exams can help your doctor diagnose this condition early and monitor its progress. You may be able to wear contact lenses in the early stages, but listen to your eye doctor’s recommendations to keep your eyes healthy.
  • Macular degeneration: This condition will eventually cause blindness, but early stages may lead to blurry vision. The most common form of macular degeneration is age-related, so you may think that your eyes are “getting old” rather than suffering from an underlying condition. Instead of buying over-the-counter glasses to read clearly, go to an optometrist to be sure you do not have any other visual problems.
  • Hormonal changes: Pregnancy, menopause, and other hormonal changes can change your vision. Even if your contact lens prescription is up to date, these physical changes will impact how well you see.
  • Migraines: Blurry vision, glares and halos, flashes of light, and seeing zigzag patterns are symptoms of ocular migraines or migraine headaches. These are temporary conditions that often go away, but if you suffer from them regularly, go to your general practitioner for a full checkup. Contact lenses will not manage the blurry vision associated with migraines.
  • Diabetes: Diabetic retinopathy starts with blurry vision as one of the first symptoms. If your vision gets worse quickly, and you cannot see well with glasses or contact lenses, see your regular doctor to test for underlying conditions like diabetes. Working with both a general medical doctor and an ophthalmologist can manage visual blurring from diabetes.
  • Cardiovascular disease: Heart disease damages the veins and arteries in the eyes, which can lead to changes in vision. As with diabetes, if your vision is changing very quickly and even corrected vision is blurry, go see your doctor for a physical.

Regular Eye Exams Keep Your Vision Healthy

If you see an optometrist or ophthalmologist every year or two, they can catch any changes in your refractive error, address any eye infections, and diagnose more serious eye diseases like glaucoma.

It is unlikely your vision will change very often, but if you find you frequently need new prescriptions, your eye doctor may tell you to go to a general practitioner for a physical to see if you have an underlying condition.

In general, keeping your contact lenses clean and up to date will prevent any discomfort or blurry vision while wearing them.

Blurry Vision in One or Both Eyes. (August 20, 2018). All About Vision.

Contact Lenses: Frequently Asked Questions. (December 2018). All About Vision.

Why Do My Contact Lenses Keep Shifting Out of Place? (June 1, 2018). American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).

Four Reasons Contact Lenses May Not Be for You. (January 2, 2019). Verywell Health.

Signs of Infection From Contact Lenses. (April 2015). Kellogg Eye Center, University of Michigan Health System.

Can contact lenses damage your eyes?

By Gary Heiting, OD

Contact lenses are very safe. Still, wearing contact lenses can damage your eyes if you wear them too long, fail to clean them properly or do not replace them as directed by your eye doctor.

Contact lenses are considered medical devices and are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (

). For safety reasons, they cannot be purchased without a professional fitting and a contact lens prescription written by a licensed eye doctor.

Keep The Oxygen Flowing To Your Eyes

Because contact lenses rest directly on the eye and cover the entire cornea (or, in the case of gas permeable contact lenses, part of the cornea), they decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches your eyes from the environment. A good oxygen supply is essential to keeping your eyes healthy.

You can limit the potentially harmful effects of oxygen deprivation from contact lens wear by doing the following:

  • Adhere to the wearing schedule your eye doctor recommends; discard and replace your contacts as directed.
  • You also may want to choose modern . These soft lenses are made of a material that transmits more oxygen than conventional soft contact lens materials and may be safer for your eyes in the long run.
  • Another option is rigid gas permeable (GP) contact lenses. Gas permeable contacts are smaller in diameter than soft or silicone hydrogel lenses and therefore cover less of the cornea. Also, GP contacts move a significant amount with each blink, allowing fresh tears to move under the lenses. These two factors decrease the risk of eye problems with gas permeable lenses, compared with wearing soft contacts.

Clean Your Contact Lenses And Case

Contact lenses also increase the risk of eye damage because bacteria and other infection-causing agents can accumulate on them. This is especially true as the lenses get older and deposits accumulate on the front and back surfaces of the lenses.

According to the Brien Holden Vision Institute, eye infections occur only in about 4 of every 10,000 daily contact lens wearers (0.04 percent) and 20 of every 10,000 people who wear extended wear contact lenses on an overnight basis (0.2 percent), but the effects can be devastating.*

You can significantly reduce the risk of contact lens-related eye infections by properly cleaning and disinfecting your contacts after each use. Use only the contact lens solutionsyour eye doctor recommends, and don’t change brands without first consulting with your doctor.

Also, though most contact lens wearers use “no-rub” contact lens solutions, recent studies show these products clean your lenses significantly better if you rub your lenses while rinsing them with the solution. (These one-step products are also called “multipurpose solutions,” because they contain ingredients that both clean and disinfect contact lenses.)

It’s also very important to rinse your lens storage case with fresh contact lens solution and let it air dry while you are wearing your contacts. This reduces the risk of the case getting contaminated with microorganisms that can damage your eyes. You also should discard and replace your storage case at least every three months.

Also, use fresh multipurpose solution each time you store your lenses. Do not simply “top off” solution you’ve left in the case from the previous day. Doing so decreases the effectiveness of the solution, possibly leading to lens contamination and a serious eye infection.

Follow Your Contact Lens Replacement Schedule

Avoid over-wearing your contact lenses and be sure to discard and replace them as directed by your eye doctor.

Even if you care for your lenses as directed, lens deposits continue to build up on your contacts over time. The longer you go before replacing your lenses, the greater potential these lens deposits have to reduce the oxygen supply to your corneas and damage your eyes.

Finally, be sure to see your eye doctor as directed for routine contact lens eye exams. Your eye doctor can detect small problems before they become big ones, and help you keep your eyes safe and healthy while you wear contact lenses.

Page updated August 2017

Schedule an exam.

Find an eye doctor near you.

Gary Heiting, OD

Gary Heiting, OD, is a former senior editor of AllAboutVision.com. Dr. Heiting has more than 30 years of experience as an eye care provider, health educator and consultant to the eyewear … read more

Notes and References

*Antimicrobials target contact lens cases to reduce infection. Brien Holden Vision Institute. Media release issued in July 2011. (BHVI is affiliated with the School of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.)

Getting contacts? Get a contact lens eye exam

Eye Exams

By Gary Heiting, OD

Eye exams for contact lenses include special tests that typically are not performed in routine eye exams for eyeglasses.

So if you are interested in contacts — or you already wear them and want to have your contact lens prescription updated — make sure you say so when you schedule your appointment for an eye exam. This will ensure your exam includes extra time for your optometrist or ophthalmologist to perform additional tests needed for a proper contact lens fitting or prescription update.

Also, be aware that it’s usually more convenient and economical to have your general eye exam and your contact lens exam performed by the same eye care professional (ECP). If you have these exams performed by different ECPs at different locations, the practitioner performing your contact lens exam may want to repeat certain tests already performed during your general eye exam, and this might entail additional fees.

This is because the second ECP is responsible for the health of your eyes during contact lens wear, and he or she may wish to verify the health of your eyes and the accuracy of your eyeglasses prescription to have the best data possible to perform a safe, successful contact lens fitting.

Duplicate testing is especially likely if the ECP performing your contact lens exam does not have access to the record of your general eye exam performed by the first doctor.

What To Expect During A Contact Lens Fitting

During your comprehensive eye exam, your visual acuity will be tested using an eye chart, and a number of tests will be performed to determine your eye health and whether prescription eyewear is required to correct refractive errors.

After this testing has been completed, your eye doctor will gather additional information so you can be fitted with contact lenses.

Watch this video on what causes blurry vision and how we can correct it.

You may be asked general questions about your lifestyle and preferences regarding contact lenses, such as whether you might want to change your eye color with color contact lenses or if you’re interested in options such as daily disposables or overnight wear.

Your eye doctor may also discuss the option of rigid gas permeable (RGP or GP) contact lenses, which often provide sharper vision than soft lenses.

Your eye doctor also might ask how you want to correct vision problems related to aging. Some time after age 40, you will develop a condition known as presbyopia that decreases your ability to read small print and focus on near objects.

To correct presbyopia, your eye doctor may offer you the choice of multifocal or bifocal contact lenses. Another option is monovision, which is a special contact lens fitting technique where one eye is corrected for distance vision and the other eye is corrected for near vision.

Contact Lens Measurements

Just as one shoe size doesn’t fit all, one contact lens size doesn’t fit all.

If the curvature of a contact lens is too flat or too steep for your eye’s shape, you could experience discomfort or even damage to your eye. Other parts of a contact lens fitting include:

Cornea measurements. An instrument called a keratometer will be used to measure the curvature of your eye’s clear front surface (cornea).

The keratometer analyzes light reflections from your cornea and determines the curvature of your eye’s surface. These measurements help your eye doctor choose the proper curve and size for your contact lenses.

Because the keratometer measures only a small, limited section of the cornea, additional computerized measurements of your cornea may be performed using an automated instrument called a corneal topographer. Corneal topography provides extremely precise details about surface characteristics of the entire cornea. It does this by measuring how the device’s light reflects off of your eye.

With one version of a corneal topographer, you are seated facing the machine with your forehead resting against a curved brace. Circular patterns of light then are beamed into your eye for analysis. A computer creates and prints out the resulting surface “map” of your eye, with different contours represented by varying colors.

Sometimes, corneal topography measurements are combined with wavefront measurements that can provide even more specific information about how well the eye focuses light, identifying higher-order aberrations. These combined measurements can help your eye doctor determine the type of contact lenses that will give you the sharpest vision possible.

If your eye’s surface is found to be somewhat irregular because of astigmatism, you may need a special design of lens known as a toric contact lens that is shaped to offset distortions of your eye to provide sharper vision.

At one time, only rigid contact lenses could correct for astigmatism. But there are now many brands of soft toric lenses. Toric lenses also are available in disposable, multifocal, extended wear, and colored versions.

Pupil and iris measurements. The size of your eye’s pupil may also be measured. In a simple approach, a card or ruler showing different pupil sizes is held next to your eye to determine the best match.

Your eye doctor may hold a pupil gauge next to your eye to determine the approximate size of your eye’s pupil as part of your contact lens eye examination.

Automated instruments that measure pupil size also exist. These instruments are capable of extremely precise measurements, and some simultaneously measure the horizontal and vertical diameter of your pupil.

Similar technologies also may be used to measure the diameter of the colored portion of your eye (iris). Pupil and iris measurements help your ECP choose contact lenses that are of a proper size to fit well and look best on your eyes.

Tear film evaluation. Contact lens fittings may also include a tear film evaluation.

Your body’s ability to produce tears may be evaluated through use of small strip of paper inserted underneath your lower eyelid. You close your eyes for about five minutes, and then the paper is removed. The length of the paper moistened by your tears is measured to assess your tear production and determine if you have dry eyes.

Another method of detecting dry eye involves adding

to the tear layer on your eye via eye drops or a moistened paper strip containing the dye, and then evaluating how long it takes for your tears to evaporate.

If you have a severe dry eye condition, you might have to avoid or discontinue contact lens wear. But in cases of contact lens discomfort due to mild dryness, special contact lenses for dry eyes may enable you to wear contacts safely and comfortably.

Evaluation of your eye’s surface and contact lens fit. The health of your cornea will be evaluated using a biomicroscope (also called a slit lamp). This lighted instrument provides a highly magnified view of the cornea and other tissues to enable your eye doctor to evaluate the health of the front of your eyes and detect any changes caused by contact lens wear.

The biomicroscope also is used to evaluate the fit of a trial contact lens, because it enables your doctor to observe the alignment and movement of the lens as it rests on the surface of your eye.

When trial lenses are used, you typically will need to wear them a few minutes so that initial tearing of the eye stops and the lenses stabilize. Your eye doctor can then make a proper evaluation of how the lenses fit without the presence of excess moisture caused by tearing.

In follow-up visits, your eye doctor may stain your eye with fluorescein to check for defects and make sure your contact lenses are not damaging your eye’s surface. You usually will need to remove your contact lenses before this test is performed.

After finding contact lenses that fit properly, are comfortable for you, and provide good vision, your eye doctor can write your contact lens prescription. This prescription will designate contact lens power, a shape matching the curvature of your eye (base curve), and diameter.

Usually, it takes two or three follow-up visits to complete an uncomplicated contact lens fitting. After that, you should have annual contact lens exams so your eye doctor can monitor the health of your eyes. In some cases, you may need more frequent exams or additional follow-up visits.

Keep in mind that if you wear contact lenses, your annual eye exams typically will cost more than a routine exam for someone who doesn’t wear contacts, due to the additional contact lens-related tests that are included.

Michelle Stephenson also contributed to this article.

Page updated April 2018

Find an eye doctor near you.

Gary Heiting, OD

Gary Heiting, OD, is a former senior editor of AllAboutVision.com. Dr. Heiting has more than 30 years of experience as an eye care provider, health educator and consultant to the eyewear … read more

When to get contacts?

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