How Not To Try Contact Lenses


I had my first contact lens “lesson” last week and to say it went badly would be a huge understatement. To be quite honest with you, I don’t know why any part of me thinks that I’ll ever be successful with a procedure that involves precision, dexterity and being OK with repeatedly touching your own eyeballs. I’ve never been successful with body-related things that don’t involve precision, dexterity and repeatedly touching your own eyeballs, come to think of it: all ear piercing episodes have all ended disappointingly when the holes have inexplicably decided to close themselves over; my flirtation with lash extensions was both painful and short-lived and don’t even get me started on the time I thought I’d use a diaphragm for contraception.

I’m fine about doing things to/with my body so long as I don’t have to interact with it in the same skilled way as you’d expect from, I don’t know, a medical professional. I like to be responsibility free. I can use a battery-operated foot file, for example, but if you ask me to inject myself with a life-saving anti-coagulant twice a day for a week I will look at you with a faraway expression that means that I have definitely not processed the instructions. I can Veet my bikini line, but do not ask me to check my own c-section wound for infection. Go ahead and pierce my ears, but I can guarantee you that I will not turn the studs to release the stinking gunk.

Things I have vetoed due to my post-babies aversion to having my body meddled with in any shape or form: getting a contraceptive coil fitted, starting my very necessary Invisalign programme (I have a bite problem that needs correcting) and having any form of face alteration, injection or tweakment. Unless a procedure is potentially going to stop me from getting ill or dying then I’m not interested, ta ever so. Back the f*ck away with your needles and rollers and things that freeze your fat off.

So why, then, have I made the decision to have a crack at wearing contact lenses? Surely this decision is – at best – unwise. At worst it is completely and utterly insane. I had a complete breakdown at my first cystoscopy (Google it if you dare) and was so traumatised that I sat in the bath for five hours, silently rocking back and forth with my knees pulled up to my chest. What makes me think having things inserted into my eyes is going to go any better? Having to touch the wobbly eyeballs, those jelly balls, the things that Lady Caroline from Succession (may one of the best dramas ever made rest in peace) called “face eggs” with such a tone of disgust?

Having things inserted into my eyes was better, obviously. I’m being obtuse. I mean if you had a choice between having your eyelids clamped open and your eyeball firmly stroked, over and over again or having a camera inserted up your pee-hole then I can imagine you’d fall into the same camp as me. I’d opt for the eyeball every time. Still, it’s not what I’d classify as an enjoyable pursuit. Apparently I have flickery eyelids, which hinders things when it comes to contact lens application, but tell me this: what sociopath doesn’t flinch when something approaches their naked, vulnerable eyeball?

Anyway, it took ages to get the blasted things in and it wasn’t even my go to do it myself yet. And I have astigmatism and so some parts of the lens are thicker and I had to blink lots to get them to turn into position, which felt like blinking with an eyelash stuck in my eye and all felt very counterintuitive. If I’m being truthful, the lenses still felt like eyelashes, or debris, even when they were in position.

But barely had I recovered from one torture when another one started: a lesson in how to take the blasted things out. There I was positioned, in front of a pedestal mirror that had apparently been briefed to show me in my very worst light, and all I could see was a version of myself who was at least fifteen years older than the one I’m used to (potentially because I’m so blind) pulling faces that wouldn’t be out of place in an aquarium and poking herself again and again in the eyeball whilst exclaiming “ugh” and “ow” and “argggh”!

Had someone happened upon me who had been unaware of my predicament, ie that I had to sit there until I had learned how to remove these little eye-discs of doom, they would have thought I needed immediate help. Because who willingly sits there fingering their eyeballs until they are dry (I needed emergency drops) and sore (of course they were sore) when there are racks and racks of perfectly comfortable glasses to try on just around the corner?

It must get better. That’s what everyone keeps telling me and that is why I am taking another stab at the whole thing. For want of a better phrase. I have another appointment – Eye Death Episode II – at the end of the week and it’ll either be disastrous, ending in another mild panic with me flailing about saying “just get them out, for the love of God – GET THEM OUT OF ME!”, or I shall emerge victorious with a trial pack of my special daily lenses and a spring in my step. I cannot see there being any middle ground. If, once again, my eyes feel as though they are being massaged with sandpaper then I shall have to politely decline a trial and draw a line beneath my contact lens escapades.

Many thanks to all those so far who have sent tried-and-tested contact lens methods, they are all very much appreciated. Can I have a show of hands for those who thought they would never conquer it after their first go but then emerged, to use my own description, victorious?

Image credit Unsplash