Maid, cook, eyeball wrangler

Wasn’t I just waxing nostalgic about how I miss the helpless baby days, but saying how great it is now that the kids can do lots of things themselves? I think I was. Which is tantamount to holding a sign up to the universe and inviting it to please come show me the error of my ways, preferably in the most humbling way possible.

Ah, yes. There is nothing that says PRECARIOUS CUSP BETWEEN BABYHOOD AND SELFDOM like the tween years, and nothing that says WELCOME TO PURGATORY like that tween with a new pair of contact lenses.

You do remember that Chickadee was all jazzed to try contacts, right? And I said I wasn’t sure she was old enough, but then all of you left comments about how young you were when you got contacts, and because I like to take advice from people on the Internet, I figured, “How bad could it be?”

I was in an interesting place with this, actually, because on the one hand I remember DESPERATELY wanting contacts at her age, and on the other hand, I remember all the trouble I had with mine, long ago.

To be fair, when I first started wearing contacts at 11 or 12, soft lenses for astigmatism didn’t yet exist. So I had a pair of “gas permeable” lenses which the optometrist assured me were MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE than hard lenses. I’ve never worn hard lenses, so I don’t know if that’s true. It might be true. Maybe wearing hard lenses is a lot like walking around with a slice of brick in your eye; I have no idea.

Anyway, they trained me up and those suckers were pretty uncomfortable, but it all seemed to work okay. I mean, except for the part where the lenses would periodically LEAP out of my eyes, unbidden. Basically, any time my eyes were a little dry (read: most of the time), I was at risk of a simple blink sending one or both lenses flying into the air. And then I got to have the joy of dropping to my knees—unable to see, keep in mind, because of the missing lens—and feeling around for the rogue contact which I felt certain my parents would kill me over if I couldn’t find.

I forget how long that lasted. But then, toric soft lenses were invented! And I got a pair of soft lenses, which were MUCH more comfortable! But here’s the thing: Because I’d grown used to the blink-extraction method of the gas-permeable lenses (just pull the outer corner of the eye taut and blink to shoot the lens into a waiting hand), I was completely wigged out by the process of removing a soft lens. The whole “put two fingers in your eye and do a pinch/sweep” thing was somehow terrifying to me. Perhaps I was worried that I would inadvertently pluck out the eyeball itself. I have many a memory of becoming hysterical over trying to remove my lenses, and also of a couple of times my mother had to try to take one out for me.

So I was a little nervous, but off we went.

[Side note: I cannot wear contacts for any length of time because my eyes are too dry. Which is hilarious, if you ask me, because I’m the person who cries at the drop of a hat, copious amounts of tears at the slightest provocation, and yet I cannot keep my eyeballs moist enough to host a vision aide. Life is cruel sometimes.]

The optometrist put the lenses in Chickadee’s eyes and she blinked a whole bunch and said “They feel weird.” Then she blinked some more and started to grin, and finally she was fairly dancing around the store, declaring that it was SO WEIRD not to have her glasses on her face yet to be able to SEE. And I told her it was very odd to see her pretty face and gorgeous eyes without her eyes crossing; she’s worn glasses since she was a toddler, for severe strabismus (or “wonky eyes,” as we like to call it), and so I haven’t seen her unfettered face with uncrossed eyes since she was a baby.

(It was kind of awesome.)

Then the optometrist instructed her in how to take them out, and she attempted it and had some trouble, and she got a little upset, and we calmed her down and explained again, and then she popped them out easily.

And then it was time for her to put them in herself, and thus began an hour-long ordeal.

Did I mention the crossing eyes thing? I make jokes about being blind, but Chickadee is pretty close to actual blindness without correction. She sees double, and a very blurry double, at that. While attempting to put in her contacts she repeatedly mashed the lens into her upper lid, the corner of her eye, or sometimes the bottom lashes—everywhere but HER EYEBALL. Eventually she got one lens in, but after twice as long on the second one, I put it in for her.

They retested her vision and sent us on our way to try the lenses for a week.

That night, Chickadee deftly removed the lenses (on the first try), cleaned them carefully, and put them away. And she gave me a huge hug and thanked me over and over for letting her try contacts.

The next morning, she spent forty minutes trying to put them in before begging me to do it for her. I made her stand in the corner of the bathroom behind the door (so that she was trapped and couldn’t flinch away!), and popped both lenses into her eyes in under thirty seconds. “Wow, that was so easy!” she marveled. I reminded her that she would need to PRACTICE, so that she can DO IT HERSELF. She agreed. And then we were off to the day’s activities. That night she took them out again with ease and cleaned them and put them away.

The morning after that, she tried for half an hour before she came begging for me to do it for her. Again I popped them in pretty quickly and told her she’d need to practice. She agreed. We went about the day. She tended to them that night and I reminded her, again, that she’d need to practice. “Okay, Mom, but could you just put them in for me tomorrow morning for school? Please?”

“Chickadee!” I said, exasperated. “You have to learn how to put them in yourself. What are you gonna do—take me to college with you so that I can put in your contacts?”

She giggled. “I think I’ll probably figure it out before then,” she offered, not sounding much like she believed it.

This morning she was waiting for me when I walked into the kitchen, and immediately wedged herself into the nearest corner so that I could put her lenses in for her.

I sighed. Part of me feels like maybe I should say she’s not allowed to wear them until she can put them in by herself… but she’s worn them for several days with no (other) problems, and she LOVES being able to go without her glasses, so maybe I just continue going with the flow and trust she’ll figure it out? I popped them in and gave her the case back to put in her backpack.

She surprised me with a giant hug and a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you,” she whispered, while letting go. Then: “I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to do it myself by high school. Don’t worry.”

Dude, high school is THREE YEARS away. What have I DONE?


  1. margie

    well, if you were harbouring self doubt and feeling unworthy, this is a great fix!

  2. Katie

    I’m about as blind as a bat and the trick is putting them in by feel, not looking in a mirror. I can put my contacts in in the dark. Without the lenses, just have her pratice the eye lid way open thing and let her touch her eyeball with her fingertip (which I know icks out a ton of people). And then of course a hell of a lot of practice helps too.

  3. Leandra

    I cannot tell you how many times I was roped into helping find lost contacts for my very blind brother and mom. Also? *I* can root around in my eye for my contacts all day with no problem, but if anybody else tries to get near my eyes with drops or anything, then I automatically become Ms. Blinky McBlinkerstein.

  4. Megan

    I have a dear friend who likes to tell the story about how he spent a determined ten minutes in the bathroom trying to remove his contact lenses – the ones he had taken out several hours before. Yup, he was doggedly trying to drag the cornea right off his eye. What really worried him, he said? That he nearly succeeded…

    *Note: I feel it’s important to point out that there was some scotch consumption involved in this story, also that this friend was male. I do believe Chickadee is immune to this particular contact lens error.

  5. Ani

    LOL I remember learning to put mine in, it was not fun.

    She’ll do it, sooner rather than later, and if not, try to think of it as a good thing that she wants you, the stupid stupidhead mom, to come near her and help her see. A sign of true love.

  6. Trish

    I didn’t get contacts until I was thirty (after wearing glasses for about 15 years) and I had just as much trouble getting them in at first (and more trouble getting them out). If Chickadee can take them out without trouble, she’s half way there.

  7. diane

    I started wearing lenses at 17 – went from hard, to soft, to daily wear soft, to gas perm.

    It really is practice, and learning *not* to use a mirror, as one previous commenter said. It’s more by feel – bend over the counter, put the contact on your finger of choice, hold your eye open with the other, then poke yourself in the eye to put the lens in.

    I’ve successfully trained myself to put them in without even seeing my finger coming…

  8. Amy S.

    My mom made me wait until high school before I could get contacts (and I was traumatized) so when my 13 year old daughter asked for them this summer I immediately said yes. She was so excited UNTIL the doctor would not let her leave until she could get them in and out on her own. Out was no problem, but in was a different story. After about 45 minutes we actually had to leave the office and take a walk around the block to calm her down and then go back to try again. I think after another 45 minutes she finally got them in. The first week was a little rough but now she pops them in and out like nothing. So don’t worry – she’ll get there!

  9. Barbara

    You done good.

    Can you find a ‘midpoint’ between you applying the contacts for the next three years and forcing her to learn NOW.

    My suggestion: You put them in on school days. She has to struggle on weekends, and expects to learn over the summer.

  10. gem

    Maybe I’m a softie but seeing as how she is getting such a kick out of them and doing so well otherwise I would continue pretty much for as long as it takes, especially as it seem to be reasonably quick and drama free. Now if she started showing attitude or making a fuss about it that would be it. I think we spend so much time arguing and being the bad guy that if you can do something fairly easy that makes you the good guy, that’s worth a lot

  11. Jenny

    Y’all may have already tried this method, and I may be exposing myself as a Grade-A weirdo here, but while I *can* put my contacts in without looking, the most foolproof method for me is with a mirror: I have to get WAAAAY up in the mirror’s business, like, so close to the mirror there’s barely room for my hands between my face and the mirror, so that all that’s really in my field of “vision” is a giant eyeball. Then I hold up the top lid with one hand, and with the lens on the index finger of my other hand, hold down the lower lid with my ring finger and pop that sucker in. It just seems to work much better for me when I’m focusing on the giant eyeball in the mirror *instead of* on the finger/lens approaching my eye. Does that make *any* sense? Looking back over it, probably not. It may only work because I’m so severely nearsighted? Or because I’m a Grade-A weirdo?

    Good luck to Chickadee in figuring it out, and good luck to you for the next three years…

  12. Anisha

    You brought back childhood memories of when my dad got me semi-permeable contacts. What a nightmare! I was 11 when I first started wearing them and I would cry every time I had to put them in. They felt like glass shards in my eyeballs. I never got used to them!

  13. The Other Leanne

    When I was a nurse (!), I had an elderly patient whose single contact had to be removed every night with a delightful little suction cup tool…except said lens had a way of floating around on her blind orb, sometimes traveling up into the lidded area. There I’d be, sticking the rubber suction cup to, um, oh, ‘scuse me, HER EYEBALL and popping it off again with a satisfying *thwup*, then resuming the exercise by fishing around under her lid. Of all the nurse-y things I had to do, I think that one squicked me out the most. I felt like leaving the suction device stuck to her iris like a rubber arrow stuck to the target.

  14. dad

    Whoa! I remember the trauma of you and your contact lenses. I spent a lot of time making myself disappear for fear that you would ask me to help and that I would hurl all over you. Eyes are not intended to be touched. Ew!

    Look at it this way: What else could you do in thirty seconds to obtain a sincere “thank you” from a tween? My advise is to relax and enjoy it.

  15. Sharkey

    Yes, as your dad said, relax and enjoy it. And also? Use it as bargaining/negotiating power when necessary.

  16. Em

    I am also blind as a bat and the two very best things about getting contacts when I was in middle school was ditching the coke bottle glasses (along with the only giant frames that would support them) and peripheral vision. Peripheral vision is the one I miss the most when I don’t wear my contacts (which is about every other never).

    My trick, besides trying to look past the finger coming at you that someone else mentioned, is making sure that the contact lense is wet, making sure the lids are way out of the way and then dropping it any old place on the eyeball and letting it slide into place by looking all around. I remember it being very hard to learn to do it but maybe by having you do it for a little while, she can get herself used to the feeling of it going in and it won’t be as big a deal for her to learn to pop them in herself. Maybe. Hopefully.

  17. exile on mom street

    Heh. I can’t wear contacts for the same reason. Every year the optometrist convinces me to try the new super-duper variety of contacts that just came out…and 2 hours will be my limit.

    I think Chickie will learn eventually; just imagine the embarrassment of having you show up to a slumber party to put her contacts in for her!

  18. Erin

    Dude. I tried contact lenses for exactly one month when I was in high school. I also have astigmatism, and they still didn’t have good soft lenses for that, so I had hard lenses.

    It WAS like having a glass shard or piece of brick in your eye! AWFUL. After three or four days, I’d get used to it–but then it’d be a day when I felt like wearing glasses, and the next day, it was back to the glass shard feeling. Ugh. Terrible. Never again! I’ve been a glasses-wearer (exclusively) ever since.

    It doesn’t help that I can’t stand to have anything coming into or toward my eye–even if it’s my own finger. Eugh.

  19. Mo

    I got soft contacts for my 14th birthday, with the understanding that parental assistance with my lenses simply wouldn’t be an option; if I couldn’t get them in, I couldn’t wear them, which ended up being a pretty good incentive for me to learn how to deal with them myself.

    And when I was really struggling with them, retreating back into glasses for weeks and months on end, my parents gave me plenty of space, which in retrospect, was exactly what I needed.

  20. momzen

    I got contacts for the first time in college. They were so irritating I cried all day long. When my friend asked me why I bothered, I said (teary, blotchy & red) “so I can look good.” Ha.

  21. Lady of Perpetual Chaos

    I was forced into contacts in middle school and it was quite traumatic and never really worked. As an adult I needed to switch to contacts after breaking my nose too many times (long story) and wearing glasses became painful. I struggle with my eyes, eye drops, too much eye contact etc. ;o) So, I put my contact on the side of my eyeball, close it and then look in the direction of the contact and it pops itself right where it’s supposed to be. Odd, but it works for me.

  22. Daisy

    She’ll figure it out. Maybe she could practice on weekends? My daughter got contacts (disposable lenses) in 7th grade because she kept breaking her glasses playing basketball. I think Chickie will eventually tire of calling for mom (think sleepovers at friends houses) and get serious about it.

  23. parodie

    Any sleepovers in her future? Getting used to having someone put them in for her is certainly good practice, and (provided she keeps trying in the mornings) I’m sure that when circumstances demand she will figure it out. :) Alternately, you could perhaps play hard ball and help her on school days but not weekends? So there’s still practicing going on…

    Good luck! I’m jealous she can wear them – I, like you, have eyes too dry for contacts. I can get them, get them out, but after half an hour with them in I can’t see properly because my eyes are too dry. *sigh*

  24. mamajama

    I’m well into my twenties, and can’t stand the thought of touching my eye. Glasses for me. Good luck to you and chickadee!

  25. ~annie

    You’ve done a wonderful thing! It sounds like it takes YOU only a few seconds to do it for her, so why not? Remember, if Chickie is ever running late or dawdling or whatever, you can still make her wear her glasses that day. You can also insist she do it herself, however long it takes, on non-school days. She’ll learn!

  26. ~annie

    PS: Maybe you can start by doing ONE eye for her – maybe she can see enough that way to get the other one?

  27. jennielynn

    You are such a great mom. No more advice, I’ve completely sworn off!

  28. Anna

    Your dad is very wise. Oh, so is Annie, right above me. One eye, not the other. Good plan.

  29. just beaux

    I finally tried contacts when I was 35 or 36 years old. Aside from the fact that I had so many problems getting them to stay on my eyeball and not flop to the sides, they just killed me to wear them all day. I finally just resolved to stay with my glasses. It really bummed me out. I think your dad is right…eyeballs aren’t meant to be fooled with.

  30. Jill in Atlanta

    Ok, how about this question for you: Did you buy her shoes with shoelaces before or after she learned to tie her shoes? If you waited and made her learn before “earning” the shoes, did it work? If she got the shoes and you tied them for years, did that work? Seems like a similar issue.

  31. arduous

    Well, here’s the thing. If she is really struggling for 30 minutes in the morning, she is TRYING. I am with all the other people who suggest making her struggle through it on weekends, but helping her out on school days, especially since she’s being so dutiful about the cleaning, etc.

    Also, I had the worst experience learning to put on the contacts, because I too, had to get gas permeable lenses. And ow, ow, ow, ow, ow. SO thankful for the soft toric lenses!!

  32. carrie

    Your Dad is so wise….

    You could have her practice putting them in on weekends or sometime when she isn’t heading out somewhere (like school) with a time crunch, which could make it panic-inducing. Make it practice for practice sake – in, out, in, out. She’ll get it eventually!

    I’m sure she looks beautiful!

  33. Kath

    Your Dad is the best!

  34. Jamie AZ

    When I wore contacts, I remember the easiest way to take them out was to pull my bottom lid down a tad and then just “swipe” the lens downward to the pulled lid. I could never “pinch” to get them, and I cringed watching my hubby take his out that way. The swipe/swooshing down always seemed to work for me. Now teaching Chickie to get them in… no ideas there except for practice on the weekends maybe a couple times a day until she gets the hang of it. I’m sure that’s easier said than done. You’re a good mommy though for giving her this chance and helping her through it!

  35. Megan

    Do not worry! It took me quite awhile to learn to put mine in myself as well. The first few weeks it took me about an hour to get them in my eyes. An HOUR. And I was a few years older than her. Now I can do it without looking in about 2 seconds. She’ll get it. And if she is trying to get them in for half an hour, she is sort of practicing…

  36. Kelly

    So I remember getting my contacts for the first time, I think 6th or 7th grade. It took me over 2 hours at the eye doctor to get them in. My mom and the eye doctor opened up wine when I was done.. they were that relieved. She’ll get it.

  37. Sue

    Have you ever tried restasis for your dry eyes? I fooled around for years with contacts – they felt like cornflakes in my eyes – until I started using it. After a year, I’ve cut back to a few times a month, and it’s amazing. It’s a prescription, but well worth trying! Good Luck.

  38. Keyona

    I love it. Kids are so easy to please! I’m sure she’ll figure it out soon. I would hold out on the weekends and tell her if she wants to wear them she’ll practice.

  39. Javamom

    How long did the toilet training take? How long did the wipe-you-own-butt take?? Huh???

    I’m up to my eyeballs in preschoolers and toddlers. And reading blogs of people with older children makes me want to run the other way….isn’t it supposed to get easier??

    I love coming to visit here Mir. Hello from Toronto!

  40. Deva

    I didn’t need/wear corrective lenses until last year. I am 22, soon to be 23. The day I was told “you’re slightly nearsighted” I said “can I try contacts?” I was getting them in and out no problem, but my boyfriend wears them and I had been watching him put his in and take them out for over a year by that point. They were really impressed with how quickly I was able to get my lenses in and out. Except the following day it took my boyfriend sitting on the toilet lid talking me through it step by step and almost forty minutes of trying to get them in. She’ll get the hang of it. What helped me was to stop focusing on my finger coming at my eye, which took me saying outloud “focus on the eyeball in the mirror” until the contact was in and I could blink. Oh, and having a mirror where I could get right up in it’s bidness helped too.

  41. Katie in MA

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! You could get a hug and kiss to start your day each morning from your *tween* and you’re wavering?! Absolutely you’re doing the right thing! :)

    Plus, I’ve never seen (read?) Chickie back down from a challenge when she really wants it…and she seems to really want this. Give her some breathing room and soon enough you’ll miss these days just like you miss their little baby pot-bellies.

  42. Michelle

    I watched my mom deal with first hard lenses, then gas permeable lenses for years and would pretend to have contacts, so I thought I’d be great when I got my own. Yeah. BIG difference in methods when compared to soft, leave in overnight contacts. I’m amazed that Chickie got the removal part so quickly. As for insertion, here’s my method that works to get around my automatic blink. Make sure that the finger with the contact is dry. Put liquid in eye (mine is a lubricating eyedrop) and one drop on contact. Get really, REALLY close to the mirror. Pull down the lower lid, look straight ahead or up a little, and place the contact, from below, under the iris on the white of the eye. When it sticks, look down slowly and the contact positions itself over the iris. Come to think of it, that’s very close to how my mom put on her contacts, too. Fortunately, due to the wonders of science, I only have to do this every couple of weeks. Or when I wake up to find a crispy, crunchy contact on my cheek, whichever comes first.

  43. tj

    My dear, my husband had to take out my contacts for 2years. Be careful :P

  44. Melinda

    Oh memories re: gas permeable lens popping out. I managed to pop out a lens it in the middle of taking the CPA exam. (Back when it was administered to a huge group of people all at once only a few times a year.) It was before we were allowed breaks during that section of the test so the proctor had to accompany me to the bathroom so I could put it back in. Good times.

    I hope Chickadee figures out the contact thing quickly. You’re awesome for letting her try.

  45. Nancy

    I remember well how long it took to get contacts in – and I was 28. My trick is to wrap my arm around my head and lift the eyelid from above – creating a huge amount of naked eyeball you can’t miss. Usually my problem is that I hit an eyelid on the way in and knock the contact off my finger. I can’t wear gas permeable either because my eyelids are too tight, and miss the really good soft contacts for astigmatism that used to last me 5 years.

  46. Amy

    Ah yes, the contact insertion problems. I got contacts at 12 and my eyes are very tiny. I had to learn to stretch my eyeballs way far apart so that I could get the contact in. It took at least an hour the first time I had to put my contacts in by myself. Now I’m a pro. I also have severely dry eyes and use some special contacts that aren’t available from any other vendors except for my eye doctor (or so he says). I can send you the name of them later if you’re interested. They are the only ones I’ve been able to wear without severe discomfort and/or having them leap out of my eyes at inopportune moments (like on the marching band practice field). Hope things improve quickly. My mom certainly remembers the days of inserting/removing my contacts, and not with fondness I’m afraid. But I did learn to do it before college, so there’s a bonus.

  47. Sheila

    A true story for those who hate gas permeable lenses:

    Tenth grade, Latin class. A pop quiz on vocabulary words is announced. Suddenly, but not TOO suddenly, Debra Adams drops to all fours beside her desk, accompanied by a yell of “Oh, NO! My lens popped out!”

    Most of the class spent ten minutes helping her “look” for it. Quiz averted. Take THAT, toric soft lens people.

  48. Suzanne

    I’ve worn soft lenses for over 30 years… the trick to getting them in, is to not look at your finger coming at your eye. I open my eye wide with one finger and just pop it on my eye. Lenses are balanced to go to the center of your eye anyway… so I just let pop it on and then blink. It will go right on, with no problem. And, if she can get them out… she’s over halfway there with wearing them!

  49. Scottsdale Girl

    Tell her to keep trying – she will get it. I spent an hour every morning for the first two weeks and I was 15! My mom refused to help. It squicked her out when she watched ME doing it.
    I eventually got it. Mostly out of sheer determination to sleep LONGER every morning.

    And OMG I totally remember the day when I first got my contacts. I had the EXACT reaction Chickie did. :)

  50. MomCat

    I had to do that (say, “You’re not allowed to wear them until you can put them in by yourself) after two weeks. Trial by fire, I say – makes ’em tough!

    Unless they have an upset stomach. Or wheezing. Or a scraped knee. Or a fever. Or…

    Okay, yeah, it was difficult. You’re not the meanest mother in the world, though.

  51. Kat

    Yep, it takes practice. I got contacts in the summer for that reason.
    Once she has it down pat, you might want to consider extended wear. I only take out my contacts every two weeks to put a fresh pair in.

  52. mama speak

    My opinion is that it’s harder to take the damn things out than in. If she can take them out she’ll get it. And you know, there’s so few things she “wants” you for these days (as compared to those baby days) as long as she’s being so nice about it, I’d revel in it.

    Oh, and I wrote to you (after an obviously exhausting day) that having them as babies/toddlers has it’s price, blah, blah, blah and then was rewarded w/perfect sleeping angels who woke up to hug me and roll over and look angelic that night. *Sigh* I take it all back. They’re so damn cute when they’re sleeping!

  53. Carla Hinkle

    I got contacts at 10 …

    The best thing for me was to learn to do it by feel. I just ignore the mirror all together.

    If I do use a mirror, I do like one previous commenter said and get waaaaaay up close to the mirror.

  54. Brandy

    I’ve been wearing contacts since I was about 11, too. I say avoid the mirror as well. Oh, and things like benedryl and certain other medications will dry out eyes. Just so you know. *g*

  55. Kate

    My now 13 year old was about 11 when he first got contacts, and for the first week was a stomping, tearful mess. He couldn’t get them in, couldn’t get them out. About a week later? A pro! Hang in there! She’ll get it!

  56. Kate N.

    I don’t know if this might help, but the biggest obstacle for me learning to put in contacts was learning to not watch what my finger was doing. I would try to look at the contact as it went into my eye, and all the motion a. made it hard to stick the lens to my eyeball, b. gave me a headache and c. kind of made me sick to my stomach.

    I got past that by learning to stick the contact onto the portion of my eye below the iris while looking up.

  57. jean

    My girlfiend was in high school and every morning for 3 months I would go over and put in her contacts! Every. Single. Day. I only stopped when it snowed and I couldn’t get there. That is when she finally learned how to do it herself.

  58. Traci

    The part where you say you were able to insert the contacts in about 30 seconds made me think of mornings at my house. My husband and I both began wearing contacts at roughly the same age (early 30’s) but…while I have no trouble touching my eyes, he can’t stop himself from blinking. Now, after several years practice, he’ll get out of the shower and spend about 20 minutes getting ONE contact in. I’ll wander in at some point. Insert both my contacts in about 10 seconds and leave. After another 15 minutes he’ll finally emerge with both contacts in. EVERY MORNING.
    I would suggest explaining to her that it may always be hard — but if she wants to wear them that bad, she’ll have to put in the time.

  59. E's Mommy

    I was 12 when I started wearing contacts and my mom had to do it for me for a couple weeks. I did it myself after that but it took 20-30 minutes every morning until I went on vacation with a friend and saw her mom put her own contacts in. I’d never seen anyone put contacts into their own eyes and I asked her a couple questions and then could do it myself in about 30 seconds. Do you have an adult friend who wears contacts who might be able to come over and show her how they put their own contacts in?

  60. annette

    I second what Barbara said….

  61. Becca

    I first got contacts when I was 11, and I think my parents helped me put them in for the first couple weeks. I figured it out soon enough. How thin are her lenses? I know the ones I had as a kid, though the soft kind, were not disposables, so they were thicker than the ones I wear now and easier to deal with. I’m sure I would have had a hard time with the disposables as a kid, but I don’t even know if they still make the thicker ones.

  62. Lelia

    I started contact training just practicing touching my eyeballs. Seriously, that is the hardest part.

    Spend some evening time with CD practicing touching without looking. She’ll get used to the feel and where things are. It was the best advice I ever got. I could put them in in the dark now!

  63. Asianmommy

    Don’t worry–someday she’ll tire of having mom do it and she’ll figure it out for herself.
    BTW, I have dry eyes, too. Have you tried Acuvue Oasys? They really help–give ’em a try!

  64. Kayt

    I can’t put my contacts in with a mirror. It freaked me out to watch me touch my own eyeball. I learned to do it by feel. I would pull my eyelid open with left hand, and held the contact on my middle finger of my right hand. I’d touch my right ring finger on the joint of my left middle finger, touch my cheek with my right thumb, and that gave me a straight shot into my eye.

  65. Andrea

    I was the SAME way; haha. and I did learn by high school, if that makes you feel any better ;). My secret, which may or may not work for Chickadee, but it’s worth a try, right? I put the contact lens in, but I look up and put it below where it actually goes, then blink a few times or manually move it up, whichever comes first. After over 10 years of contacts, I still blink/get them smushed in my eyelids/eyelashes/nose? if I try to put them in right. haha. Good luck, 3 years really isn’t that long…is it?

  66. All Adither

    Aw, let her keep them. It sounds really important to her. And she will figure it out. She WILL. Remember Monkey and the bike riding?

  67. Shannon

    I tried off and on for YEARS to wear contacts in high school. I had trouble putting them in, and was fine taking them out. I’d try for a few weeks, give up, and on and on. FINALLY I figured it out. So because of that, I say cut her some slack, there can be a big learning curve even with a teen. Maybe tell her she has to try each day for 10 minutes and if she still can’t get them in, she can have you do it. She’ll eventually get it. And really, trying to put them in for 30 minutes just leads to lots of frustration and red eyes. Better to just try a few minutes each day.

  68. becky

    i tried contacts for a couple of years. but they don’t completely correct my astigmatism, and my allergies have gotten so bad the last few years that i, too, have dry eyes. my eyelids stick to my eyes enough without adding contacts into the mix. oh, how i wish i could wear them!

  69. Melissa

    I first tried contacts in the days when hard lenses were the only option for astigmatism. At first they were awful because it turns out that I was allergic to all but one kind of solution (as was my mother, who failed to mention that it might be a problem), so they were absolute torture. When we made the solution switch, it was such a huge relief and they felt so much better in comparison that I tolerated them for about a year after, but they never felt good. I’ve been a glasses girl ever since.

  70. MomCat

    Just to pass this info along, I was told by our pediatric opthamologist that extended wear contacts are a big NO NO for kids under 18. The lenses block oxygen transfer to the eyes, especially at night when there is no blinking going on to bring oxygen to her growing eyeballs.

    Save the extended wear lenses for the year when you allow her to date leather-clad bikers and vote. Either, or.

  71. ImpostorMom

    Oh god I had the gas permeable ones too, AND the soft toric ones that cost and arm and a leg. I finally got lasik about 5 years ago. I figured at almost $400 a pop not having to buy contacts would pay for the surgery in just a few short years. Best thing i ever did.

  72. nil zed

    ditto on all the advice to either focus on the eye in the mirror, NOT the finger heading toward your eye. I hade to get a magnification mirror for this. Eventually I could sorta do it by feel.

    I wore daily lenses for a while, then switched to extended wear, then went through a phase of not wearing them much and I lost the ability to get them in & out! I’d occaisionally struggle through it, but eventually when back to my glasses full time. Now I use the 5x mirror for putting on makeup!

    I’m considering going back for contacts though, now that I need reading glasses. I have the lineless bifocals, but can’t seem to adjust to the exact spots for distance vs. reading. Makes me dizzy.

  73. carrien

    I never look when putting in contacts, I’ve always done it by feel. You can always find the middle of your eyeball by feel. Just pull apart and stick your finger in. I always look away from the finger toward the bridge of my nose. Maybe that will help

  74. Erin

    The contact lens stories in the comments remind me of my mom. She went to Paris as part of her MBA (winning the award for Most Awesome Field Trip EVER) and had a fair amount of wine one evening. My dad tells lovely, charming stories of my mom’s several inebriated phone calls (Trans-Atlantic no less) to him. The best one: she called and told him she was “very concerned” about her vision. Because? When she closed one eye and looked at the TV it was all blurry, but when she closed the other eye, the TV was fine.

    The next morning, she called Dad again to apologize and explained that she hadn’t taken out one of her contacts.

  75. Gaylin

    I used to wear contacts, I had extreme astigmatism and nearsightedness (-8.25). I found that standing close to a mirror was the best thing – BUT have a mirror on the wall that she can stand her whole self close to, instead of leaning over the counter to the bathroom mirror. Way easier to hold the eyelid open without straining your whole body.
    I had my eyes lasered 11 years ago – best thing EVER.

  76. Wendalette

    I got contacts when I was about 21 and I STILL have trouble putting them in (folding backward over fingertip, catching on lashes) unless I use the mirror. I’m all like, “in your face!” as I put them in while staring at my eye reflection. I can take them out without looking, but have a residual fear that I’ll pinch my eyeball or scratch my cornea. Which is why I keep my nails short when I’m wearing contacts.
    The irony though, is that I wear contacts and grow out my nails to feel more girly, but I can’t do both at the same time.

  77. Laura

    I recommend cutting the nails on the index finger and thumb on the dominant hand. It is always gross when my nails touch my eyeball.

  78. Catherine

    LOL you are an enabler :) LOL. Give her a few more attempts. Then tell her she’s on her own :)
    LOL Good luck,

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