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You can lead a horse to water but you can't force it to put in contact lenses
I was resistant to wearing contact lenses for a long time. This was partly based on fear or lots of fuss and bother. I’m not very disciplined about any regime that requires me to pay attention to things when I’m half asleep and I had always assumed that contact lenses would be a lot of fuss and bother with bottles of goop and funny little storage cases. My other reason for not wanting to try them was that I don’t generally wear my glasses all the time and they tend to spend more of the day perched on top of my head or dangling off my shirt. I thought wearing lenses all day long might make my eyes weaker.
I used to play hockey and I was a goal keeper for many years. My eyesight has never been particularly poor and I mostly wear specs for driving, cinema and being able to read the screen during meetings with lots of presentations. I realised that several of my spec-wearing team mates used lenses when they were playing and came to the conclusion that it would be better if I could actually see what was going on at the other end of the pitch rather than just guessing where the ball was based on where the people were running. I made an appointment with Specsavers and prepared to see whether or not I could actually stick my finger in my eye on a regular basis.
My Specsavers Lens Experience
I chose Specsavers because they were the company I always trusted with my vision and because I thought it important to be getting both glasses and lenses from the same place. For one thing it would mean that just one company was keeping records on me and that hopefully if anything went wrong it would be spotted quickly.
My first appointment saw me rather nervous. The optometrist carried out a full sight test, examined my eyes with the shiny light and worked out the prescription. We then set about practicing putting the lenses in my eyes and – equally important - getting the little buggers out again. I was sent away with a few packs to try and then returned about a week later for the optometrist to make sure I was putting them in correctly and to check that I wasn’t making any mistakes. I was then told to wear them every day for a couple of weeks and gradually increase the number of hours I left them in for, up to a maximum of about 12 to 14 hours a day.
Because my prescription was quite mild, I often struggled to know if I’d got them in the right way round and I never really got to the bottom of being able to tell. If I put a lens in, blinked and found it just didn’t feel right, I would take it out and try again – not the most technical approach but it seemed to work.
When I was about 13 years old I got smashed across the face with a badminton racquet and had to stay home for two weeks and do nothing energetic. The hospital feared my retina might detach and I had to use eye-drops for several weeks. As a result I learned one of life’s useful skills – the ability to put drops in my eyes without blinking. I hadn’t realised that it would come in so useful when I got lenses, but I didn’t have the blink response that I’d expected and I found it quite easy.
I signed up for the monthly direct debit programme and for the daily disposable lenses.. My prescription is different in each eye so I would receive boxes of lenses suitable for each eye, delivered to my house once every three months. I knew that I wouldn’t use them every day so I started out on a deal for enough lenses to wear them two thirds of the time but soon cut this to just one third – I received a box with 30 lenses of each prescription every three months. A couple of times I stopped the direct debit after discussing with Specsavers so that I could try to catch up but I always seemed to have more lenses than I needed and my house is still littered with their green boxes two years after I stopped getting them. When you’re on a scheme of this type your annual or two-yearly examinations are covered in the cost of the lenses so there’s no excuse to not get your checks done. I eventually cancelled the scheme altogether and currently I can buy when I need and just pay for my checks but I wear lenses so rarely that I skipped my last check after realising I’d probably not used lenses more than half a dozen time since the previous check.
Too lazy for my own good
I found my Specsavers daily disposables easy to put in and easy to get out again. Once they were in I barely even registered that they were there. Occasionally if I was getting dryness I would use contact lens ‘comfort drops’ or artificial tears to lubricate them. For the first few years I wore my lenses mostly at weekends, for going out in the evenings or for sport. If I went on holiday and it wasn’t TOO dusty, I could wear them with standard sunglasses which I found really useful.
Eventually I stopped using my lenses because my days were typically longer than the recommended maximum time for using them. If I put them in at 6.30 or 7 in the morning, I couldn’t guarantee being somewhere to take them out again 12-14 hours later and I didn’t like the thought of starving my eyes of air by leaving them in longer than that. Because you can't leave them in from first thing in the morning to last thing at night, you'll also have to make sure you still have glasses so anyone who's thinking that lenses might be cheaper than glasses needs to think about adding in the cost of glasses to wear when the lenses are out.
I also got lazy – the few minutes they took in the morning and evening were minutes I’d prefer to spend on other things. The biggest issue for me was air travel and this proved to be the killer factor on my lens use. If you put me on a plane and start the engine I fall asleep before the plane is off the tarmac. If you fall asleep in these lenses you wake up either with very dry eyes or with the lens somewhere round the back of your eyeball and it’s the devil’s own job to get it out again. Even if I didn’t sleep on the planes, the dry air was uncomfortable when wearing lenses.
I was always very happy with the service I had from Specsavers and I never had lenses from any other supplier. The optometrists at my local branch in Market Harborough are lovely and always very thorough. I had very little experience of discomfort with my lenses, only rarely did I experience tearing or breakage of the lenses and it was good to always have a stock delivered to my door. I stopped using them out of a combination of laziness and too much flying and once I got out of the habit and accepted that I didn’t care how I looked in glasses, I never got back into the swing of things. I suspect that in time I will end up needing bifocals and when that happens I can’t see me wandering around with two pairs of specs perched on my head so I’ll most likely be back to Specsavers to see what they can do for me. If I had been more vain or more short sighted so that I needed correction all the time, I might well have been more willing to make the effort.