I know lots of people wear contact lenses, but nobody in our family does. In fact, I’ve never even SEEN a contact lens before (yes, I know, I’ve led a very sheltered life). So when my younger son announced he’d like contact lenses before he started secondary school, I had no idea what to expect.
We made an appointment and I expected they’d give him an eye test. I also expected we’d have to order them and wait a week for them, like we do with glasses. It hadn’t occurred to me that they have a bottomless pit of contact lenses sitting around the opticians to give out.
They didn’t give him an eye test, but they did check his eyes were healthy, by putting in some orange dye, then shining a light in them. They were healthy, thank goodness. Then, before I knew it, the optometrist had got contact lenses to meet his prescription and was putting them in his eyes!
I wasn’t ready for that!
We discussed dailies v monthlies. Dailies sound really practical, with no faffing about cleaning, but they’re £33 a month, compared to £8.50 a month (plus about £4 for cleaning solution) for monthlies. Call me tight, but I really couldn’t justify the expense. My glasses cost me about £200 and I keep a pair for three years. I couldn’t be paying nearly £400 for a year’s wear. Although I did have concerns about how/ if my son would cope with the cleaning procedures. Of all my kids, he is the least independent and equal to his brother on his general lack of cleanliness and tidiness.
I was surprised at how big the lenses were. See – I told you I’d never seen one!
And then they were in.
The optometrist checked his distance vision in them, which wasn’t quite as good as usual, but she said it would take time to settle.
Then we went to see a man who would show him how to take his lenses out and put them in and how to take care of them. We learned all about putting them away properly, rinsing them with solution and never tap water, emptying the solution out every day, wetting the lens with the solution, always putting them away in the right compartment, to prevent infection and because his prescription is different for each eye. It was so much to take in.
I’d never realised it was so complicated (although I know it will become second nature soon). Reach over your head with your opposite hand and prise your eye open as wide as it will go, keep both eyes open, keep looking straight into the mirror… Then put the lens in and out using the same hand as eye. Each finger has a specific role and he showed him what fingers to use to do what.
And then he left him to it.
It was a struggle, but he got his first lens out!
I actually cheered when he did it.
Remarkably, he got the left one out faster than the right.
Putting them in was harder – he just couldn’t keep his eyes open wide enough. He got so close, then he missed. But he kept going, even though it was frustrating for him and increasingly painful. He thought he was doing badly, but the optician said he has plenty of adults that take weeks to get the hang of it and my son was doing really well.
Eventually, the right lens went in! His eye was sore and watering, but he’d done it! I was so proud of him, because it looked so difficult.
The left lens took even longer. Co-ordinating the fingers, remembering to look forwards, remembering to keep the eyes wide open… it’s a lot for a boy to remember and get right. His eyes were watering, but he carried on. I watched with baited breath, willing the lens to go in. And, eventually, it did. This eye was more painful, but there was no time for worrying about that, it was time to take them out again!
He got his right one out in just one go and his left one out in two. I was very impressed!
Even though the lenses belonged to him, he couldn’t take them home. He needed to go back to the optician for another practise. Only when the optician is confident he can put them in and, most importantly, take them out easily, could he take them home. Nobody wants to be stuck at home, late at night with a lens that won’t come out. I don’t even like cutting my kids’ nails for fear of hurting them, I’d be terrified of trying to remove a contact lens.
He went back two days later, put them in and out three times – taking less and less time to put them in each time and getting them out first time every time. And then he brought them home! He’d done incredibly well.
Now he’s got his lenses, he’s just wearing them for four hours a day at first, gradually building up to a full school day and then a full day. He won’t take them away on his big Scout camp or school residential. The most he should ever wear them is for 15 hours. They must be put in the solution every night and must be thrown away at the end of the month, even if they haven’t been worn much.
I’m so proud of how my son is getting on with the contact lenses and I really hope they work out well for him.
If you know my son in real life, please don’t tell your kids he’s got contact lenses, he wants to surprise them at school!