Here's What Happened When I Ditched My Glasses and Wore Contacts for a Week
Once upon a time, I wore contact lenses—and I hated it.
They hurt, moved around in my eyeballs too much and were inconvenient, so I stopped wearing them entirely. I decided to start wearing my glasses full-time, and eventually they grew to feel like they were a part of me. That was more than five years ago.
But last week, I decided to give my contacts another shot. For a full week, I hid my glasses away and committed to seven contacts-only days. Were they as bad as I had remembered, or were my memories clouded? There was only one way to find out.
Back in the Habit
As I started my Monday morning and reached over to the nightstand to grab my glasses, I remembered they weren't there. A small sense of dread filled me as I realized it was time to put in my contacts for the first time in years.
If you're not familiar with contact lenses, they typically come individually wrapped in a package, with each lens sitting in a small pool of saline, like this:
So I grabbed two lenses from the box peeled back the foil and did by best to insert my contact lenses for the first time in years.
When I wore contacts all those years ago, putting them in had become second nature. Now, as I attempted to insert my left contact lens, it was a definite struggle.
I stood in front of the mirror, balancing the tiny piece of flexible plastic on my right index finger while I tried to pull down my bottom eyelid with the ring finger and the top eyelid up with the other hand's middle finger.
As I slowly moved the contact finger toward my eye, I blinked and flinched involuntarily. Despite my the other fingers steadying the lids, my eyelid shielded its proper resting place in the center of my eye. Wearing contacts is an unnatural process, after all. Eyes don't really like being poked and prodded.
But then I remembered what you're supposed to do, which is look upward during this process. On the fourth or so attempt, I finally got it in. Immediately I felt a dull sting.
The next eye was easier, and the contact lens made it into my eye on my first try. This one stung at first, too, but in 10 minutes or so, the sensation in both eyes dissipated.
Things looked different with the contacts, too. My vision was just as clear, but things somehow seemed warped around the edges of my field of vision. Again, it took a second, but I got used it, and got ready and went to work like any other day.
For whatever reason, I expected everyone at the office to have some comment about seeing me without my glasses on for the first time ever, but work was relatively quiet. The other writers were the first to notice, but I'd discussed the experiment with them beforehand.
Besides the initial meeting with the writers, only a couple other coworkers brought up the fact that I was sans glasses on Monday—and those were the last ones that said anything during the entire week.
I was a little surprised, but I realized it was probably because not wearing glasses wasn't the big deal I was making it out to be. People probably noticed but didn't feel the need to say anything. I'm not a big fan of unwanted attention, so it was actually a welcome break.
My boyfriend, however, pointed it out every time he saw me, every day of the week. Of course, his noticing was totally welcome (and this week he's quite happy that I'm back to my regular old glasses).
Upsides and Downsides
The benefit of wearing contact lenses is that you get all the visual enhancement afforded by glasses without actually having to wear them. But I love wearing my glasses.
For me, the downsides are more prevalent. My eyes occasionally itch and sting, they're somehow dry and watery at once, and staring at a computer for even short bursts of time makes my vision go out of focus faster than with my glasses.
And taking them out for bed can be just as bad as putting them in. At the beginning of the week I had pretty long nails, and digging around in my eyeball in an attempt to remove my lens was extremely unpleasant. When I tried to grasp the plastic, I'd wind up pinching my eye instead. It was gross and painful. By Wednesday, I had cut my nails all the way down to avoid a repetition of Monday and Tuesday night's horror.
Then there was Friday. All day, something felt wrong with the lens in my right eye. It didn't affect my vision, but I felt like it was moving ever-so-slightly around throughout the day.
When it came time to sing for an office birthday, something happened and the lens shifted away from my pupil entirely, leaving me in a blurry state of half vision.
Once we'd finished "Happy Birthday," I ran to the restroom with a backup lens. After pulling my eyelids every which way to find the lost contact (it had made its way into the folds of the far right side of my eye) I fished it out and inserted a fresh one. The crisis was averted, but the sting was all too fresh.
And then there's the fact that, being used to my glasses, I constantly wanted to adjust them even though I wasn't wearing any. I wound up touching my face a lot, and just looking extremely silly.
After the experiment, I think it's pretty safe to say that I won't be repeating that experience. And since all my contacts expire in March, I probably won't have time to inflict this upon myself again.
If you related to this, check out THESE struggles that are way too real for people with glasses.