Added SWH- Can This Old Dog Learn a New Trick?

Updated on March 03, 2015
J.F. asks from Henderson, NV
16 answers

I've been really fortunate with my eyesight. Never before had to wear glasses, and only at 46 or 47 did I have to start using reading glasses.

Fast-forward a few years, and without readers, I cannot see anything up close. My distance sight is fine.

I have to have readers everywhere---bedside table, kitchen, medicine drawer, several in my purse (just in case one pair breaks when I'm away from home) in order to do any sort of close-up work---reading, paperwork, cooking, computer work, artwork, house projects, but then I have to take them off so my distance vision isn't distorted. I cannot see any texts or incoming calls on my phone without the readers, so if I'm working out, I need to bring glasses with me and put them on to see whether the calls or texts are urgent.

It's also pain when I'm doing projects around the house, and the glasses fall off, or when they get smudged (all the time), and when I have to keep taking them off to walk or drive, etc. So, when I went for my eye appointment about 10 days ago, I decided to try contacts. They are multifocal so I can keep them in all day to see up close, but they don't distort my distance vision. Sounded like the perfect idea.

Not so much, in reality, though. I'm having the worst time trying to get these things in and out. With the first pair I had, one got stuck, and I had to go back to the office for help. One tech couldn't see it. The other saw it but couldn't get it, so the eye doctor had to retrieve it.

The eye doctor tried a different type of lens, but I'm still having an awful time with them. In the less than two weeks since I've had contacts, I think I've been able to put them in maybe four or five times, and each of those times takes at least 30 minutes. Getting them out is also difficult. Today was about 40 minutes.

What happens is they stick to my finger, get trapped in my eyelashes (I do NOT have mascara on when doing this), fall on the counter---they go everywhere but my on my eye! It's like trying to handle glad wrap and make it stick on my eyeball! On top of that, I can't see what I'm doing, so I have use the reading glasses when I'm cleaning and prepping the lenses or when I drop one.

Most of my friends who have contacts started wearing them at young ages and have been wearing them now for years, so they can get them in and out in a few seconds. They tell me to keep trying, and I do know there is a learning curve, but I'm wondering how long is that curve? Are there just some people who aren't cut out for this? My husband says to just forget it. He tried years ago and also gave up because he can't stand getting his fingers that close to his eye. That isn't my problem, and I don't want to give up too soon, because this could really solve a big problem for me -----IF I can learn to get them in and out quickly.

I've watched some demonstrations on Youtube, but that hasn't helped me much.

Have any of you learned to use contacts successfully at a later age? How long did it take you? Any suggestions or things I might do differently?

Thanks so much for reading this and anything you can offer.

J. F.

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So What Happened?

Thanks, everyone, for the support and the tips, especially the ones about making sure I have adequate moisture on the lenses, my finger, and in my eyes AND about gently pressing the lens onto the eye. I think I was kind of swiping if that makes sense, and that's probably how they kept getting caught in my eyelashes.

I'm glad to hear that many of you (or people you know) were able to get used to contacts and wear them comfortably beyond age 50. Margie, I can't believe your aunt started wearing contacts in her 80s! Okay, that's inspiration enough for me to keep trying!

Should clarify that I did receive in office lessons on insertion and removal at my first appointment and have been seen for follow-up and adjustment of the prescription since my original appointment. I can go in for additional help any time, but they don't open until 9:00 a.m., and my days start earlier than that. I have another appointment next week to make sure this is the right prescription and to see how things are going. My doctor is really patient, and all of the staff are very helpful and supportive.

Gidget, when they are in, I can see up close in a way that I haven't in years without reading glasses. That is really great! I must admit, though, there is little give on the sharpness of very far distances, but that may just be my eyes getting used to the lenses. I do have a different strength for each eye, so that takes some getting used to. However, I can still see quite well at distances. This is one of the things the dr. will be assessing when I go back next week.

I know some have suggested I just get bifocals or stick with reading glasses, but I really feel the contacts will work better for my needs if I can learn to get them in quickly. I won't ever get rid of my reading glasses altogether since I'll need them to read in bed or on days when I don't feel like wearing the contacts.

It's just nice to hear that people have been able learn to use contacts and wear them successfully later in life. I really appreciate everyone taking time to share their experiences and suggestions. Thanks much!

Featured Answers


answers from Norfolk on

I wore contacts for years until I had Lasik.
It just takes practice.
Keep working on it and before you know it you'll hardly remember ever having difficulty with it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i could have written this post 30 years ago.
i got soft contacts when i first started having eye trouble. in retrospect it was nuts to get contacts without ever having glasses. but i was vain.
they just didn't work for me. if i put 'em in after i put my make up on i could count on getting mascara everywhere. if i put 'em in beforehand, every time i took a swipe at my lashes with the mascara wand the contact would fall out.
they folded over, stuck together, stuck to my fingers, and smirked at me.
i gave up and got glasses.
and now that i'm an old chick, i too have reading glasses in every room.
i hope others are more helpful than i!

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Portland on

My trick (been wearing over 30 years) is that I yank the skin under my eye down with my middle finger, have lens on my index finger, look up and stick in it. The contact shouldn't be any where near your lashes - aim lower. You kind of have to push it onto your eye.

Also, contacts have to be wet. If they dry out in your eyes, and you try to take them out, it's very difficult. They won't just stick to your finger.

My husband's great aunt started wearing them in her 80's and wore them well into her 90's if that gives you encouragement! My aunt started wearing them in her 40's.

Good luck :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My mother learned to use contact lenses at a pretty late age, so it can be done. I think you need much more instruction with the eye doctor or technician familiar with your eyes and the type of contact lens. I would think this would be much more beneficial than you tube videos and so on. Having someone right there with you and watching your every move would give you much better feedback.

It also sounds like you have too many pairs of reading glasses, and they fit poorly. There's a learning curve with glasses too - holding them away from the lenses putting them in the case (so they don't get so smudged), and having properly fitted ones that don't fall off. If you don't want to wear a chain around your neck, you could consider the ones that snap together with a magnet at the nose piece. A friend of mine is a teacher and just wears those around her neck and snaps them on when she needs them.

I have a light prescription and my eyes have gotten better over time (lower prescription) but my main problem (other than needing a little reading boost) is that my eyes are not the same in terms of the prescription strength. So I was getting headaches just because the 2 eyes were different. I very happily went into bifocals, with either plain glass or a slight distance prescription on the top part and a reading prescription on the bottom. I have progressive lenses so there's no visible line, but I'm considering standard bifocals to give me a better/bigger reading area. But the point is, my glasses are properly fitted and don't fall off even when I'm at the gym in a class and bending over, and I just wear them all the time. There are so many nice frames out there that they are just a fashion accessory now. I never have to worry about where they are.

I think, with what you are spending on inexpensive reading glasses that you are leaving everywhere and never have at your disposal, you could probably buy 1 or even 2 pairs of glasses that fit and look great!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Maybe try looking for youtube videos putting in/getting out contact lenses, but specific to your situation - new, mature, first time wearer?

I've been wearing mine since I was a teen. I know they need to be wet- rewet with the solution as needed. Moist fingers for the contact, dry fingers that hold your eye open. I use fingers on my left hand to hold open top eyelid. I have the contact poised on my pointer finger, and my middle finger pulls my lower lid down a bit. I look PAST my finger that has the contact lense, and then gently put it in, close my eye, move my eye around with lid closed.

It does take practice.

I have very short nails, which helps.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

I COULD NOT wear contact lenses at all. With the presentations I give, my glasses needed to come off. I finally did laser correction surgery. This was the best thing ever and I had it done about three years ago.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I understand the trouble putting them in your eye. I don't wear mine as often now, and the lenses they make now are so much slimmer (and much more flimsy) than they were when I first learned.

But I'm having trouble understanding how they are difficult to remove. I was told to pinch them. If you give your lens a little pinch, they pop right out. Maybe your doctor described it differently.

When you have gotten them in, do they work for you? I'm actually curious, because I'll be starting down this road myself very soon. I probably need them right now, but I'm still getting by by taking my glasses off when I need to see up close.

Yes, keep trying. I also am hoping it's worth it to wear the contacts.

ETA - Also, I've always had the toric lenses - I think those are the kind you need to have for "multifocal." My doctor had me use my left had to raise my top eye lid, use the middle finger on my right hand to lower my bottom eye lid, place the lens on my right index finger and LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE LENS AS I PLACE IT ON THE COLORED PART OF MY EYE. Most of the people I know with contacts look away and place the lens on the white part of their eye, but I was told to place it directly on the colored part of the eye. Works for me.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Just get bifocals. Top just glass bottom your prescription for close up work and reading. I gave up on contacts. With glasses you would wear them full time. You won't lose them.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

After a lifetime of perfect eyesight, my mother started wearing contacts in her 50s for the exact same reason as you. If she can do it, YOU can do it. Hang in there and keep trying!

Of course, I've been wearing contacts for 30 years now so it's easy for me to say...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I got them at 46 and mine are kind of crazy, one eye is distance and reading, the other distance and mid. I got them mixed up once, massive headache, but I digress.

I don't know if this will help but I wet the tip of my right pointer so it sticks but just the tip, just a little. I make sure there is a bit of solution inside as well because it seems to make them suck to my eye. Other hand open top, second finger pull down, stick it up as far to the top I can against the eye and let go of my lid. Usually works unless I am crabby or my husband is making stupid comments.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

By the time I was 40 I had to quit using contacts because my eyes were too dry. My friend had quit by the time she was 50. I talked to my optometrist later because I really wanted to wear them. He said most people have to quit by the time the're 50 because the eyes dry as we age.

I suspect the having them not stick may be because you don't have enough tears. As to getting them to stay on your finger and get into your eye is a matter of practice. I remember having that difficulty when I first got them. Are your hands steady and do you have enough wetting solution on you finger and lense?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Here's what I used to do to get them in and out. Wash and dry hands, put contact on tip of index finger, add a couple drops of solution, lower your head down and bring your finger up (so you don't dump out the solution as you put it in your eye), place on eye and gently press to eyeball. Blink slowly and carefully to see if it's on there correctly.

To remove, while looking in the mirror, pinch the contact gently while your index finger moves it slightly to the outer part of your eye and remove. It's really one motion, mostly pinching gently and that should release it. By moving it over to the outer part of your eye a little it also should help to release suction.

I bet part of the issue is that you can't really see what you are doing. Just try to practice so you don't have to see. After a while you'll be able to pop those buggers in and out without a mirror.

Now as me about hard contacts, or Lasik. I've been through it all. :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Just a tip...when taking them out, wet your finger with contact lens solution. The lens will gravitate towards the wetness.

I do believe you can do this. It just depends on how motivate you are. I can say it took me about a month at age 21 to be able to get them in and out comfortably. I was terrible at it but I was determine☺️

Good luck!!! You can do this!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Hi J.,
I'm going to chime in with a late answer. I am a former contact lens wearer and had to eventually opt for bifocal glasses. I tried very hard to stay with contacts, as I really don't like glasses as well. As I began to need bifocals I tried the monovision thing (one lens for close and one lens for distance) but it drove me crazy. Oh, I also wore gas- permeable (hard) lenses, not the soft lenses I am assuming you are wearing. I couldn't wear a bi-focal hard lens as, for me, my lenses rode too high for a bi-focal to work. At the time, the soft lenses did not have bi-focal capability, so they weren't an option. I also started to develop dry eyes and wearing the hard lenses became increasingly uncomfortable. So, I surrendered and switched to glasses.
Now to your problem -- if you can't get the hang of putting the soft lenses in and out, ask your optometrist about gas-permeable hard lenses; old technology but might be an option.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

We all can learn. It takes each of us different lengths of time but over time we all can become experts at anything if we don't give up. It takes 1,000 hours of practice to become good at something and 10,0000 hours to become an expert.

What is the rush? They are helpful to you. It may just take you a little longer to get in the swing of things. Make certain you eye is wet and that will be helpful in taking them out.

Don't quit don't give up. Don't let the negative experience of another color your decision for yourself. Hang in there and get them out and be well.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Why not just go to the dollar shop and get several sets of those chains that are made to hold the ends of your glasses and they hang down on your chest? I use those and never lose my glasses. I also carry several pair in my purse just in case the current pair breaks. I like being able to change them too when I have on a cool color. I love getting my glasses and supplies at the dollar shops like Dollar Tree.

The glasses I have on are 1.25 and I've worn them for nearly 6 months. The blue pair I have in my purse I've had nearly a year. For a dollar! Well worth it and I'm able to manage taking care of them.

It truly sounds like these contacts are just beyond your abilities unless you can get used to taking them out and putting them in. Perhaps you need to make an appointment with the doc and practice these actions several times in his presence.

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