I know you’ve all been waiting for contact lens news with bated breath so here’s my update: I went for my second lesson and didn’t do too badly. I have to say that at one point it did feet as though I was in a weird version of the Hunger Games, especially when I was firmly clamping my eyelids open with one set of fingers and grazing my eyeball over and over again with another. Watching all of this happen in the mirror kind of added to the trauma.
Despite my contact lens tutor (my God, it must honestly be one of the most frustrating jobs in the world) being as calm and patient as an FBI negotiator, I still had a few moments where I had to do a reality check and wonder why the hell I was voluntarily self-sabotaging my own ocular comfort and happiness.
Up until now, my eyeballs had been doing very well in life thank you very much, with no real minor injuries apart from the time I nearly blinded myself trying to snap a small tree* in half by bending the (still planted) trunk and jumping on it, and here I was pulling back their cosy, protective curtains and repeatedly poking and pulling at their naked jelly flesh. And they had never, ever been touched, not even during childhood, because everyone knew in the eighties that if you touched your eyeball you’d go blind.
(It was like the legendary quicksand you had to avoid – one of my major childhood anxieties – and not swallowing Hubba Bubba because it would form a big ball in your appendix and then you’d die. You never touched your eyeball in the eighties unless you were one of the crazy kids who also passed your fingers briefly through a lighter flame, or pinched the candle wick to put it out. Wild.)
Anyway: poor, virgin eyes, suddenly having the covers thrown back and enduring what must have been a total sensory nightmare. Especially with me in charge of proceedings, the most inept handler of lenses the world has ever known. Apart from my hands shaking like someone who’d been sellotaped to a washing machine that was set to a perpetual spin cycle, I just couldn’t get the conditions right. My fingertip was too wet, the contact lens had become too dry, the blasted thing was upside down or inside out or folded over like a burrito…
You’ll be pleased to know I managed it though. After around nine hours of dangling the moist disc in front of my eyeball it finally lost patience and hurled itself from my fingertip to the surface of my eye, sucking on firmly and making its presence immediately felt.
The second one went in more easily, once the lovely tutor had suggested I try a standing position for a bit of a change. I very nearly made a joke about labouring, but didn’t think it was the right time. He was only human: his patience surely had its limits. But it did slide in more easily, so perhaps standing will be the optimum position going forwards? Who knows. Some people apparently like to hang over the edge of their bed and have a mirror on the floor beneath them, which sounds rather hazardous if you ask me, but who am I to judge? Who knows what inventive methods I will employ once I get going with the whole thing.
After putting both contact lenses in, it was time to take them out again – and this is where everything had gone awry the week before. I was slightly more relaxed this second time around, already used to the sensation of pinioning an invisible disc of barely-there gel to my eyeball and moving it from side to side. This time I watched in the mirror as the lens moved to the side and I saw where the lens wrinkled – grabbing it with longish nails was tricky as you have to use the sides of your fingers (otherwise you’d scratch your eye, which is serious) but after five hundred or so attempts I finally managed it.
I actually suspect that my eye just went “oh for fcuk’s sake” and expelled the lens itself because it was so sick of the poking about, but we will never know for sure.
So, I got both lenses in and then I got both lenses out and then guess what I had to do? PUT THE BLOODY THINGS BACK IN AGAIN! And I was a hell of a lot quicker. I don’t think I did it in less than ten minutes per eye, because I had to factor in breathing time, kicking-the-wall-in-anger time and regular motivational talks from my tutor, but I did it. And I wore them for three hours and just about got used to the alien feeling of them being right there, sitting on my ‘balls, so that was that.
Fast-forward a couple of months, though and I can’t say that contacts and I ever really saw eye to eye. (Sorry.) It wasn’t the faff of putting them in and taking them out, because that gets faster, it was more that they didn’t really solve my problem. Which was that I just wanted complete, seam-free, no visible-panty-line vision. I wanted to be able to see, to do everything, but not have to actively make that seeing happen.
I didn’t want to have the on-off-again rigmarole of glasses, where I needed one pair for walking and another for driving and about three pairs stacked up for reading; but I also couldn’t be doing with contact lenses where I’d have to remember to take them out if I needed a power nap (surprisingly often) and where I couldn’t wear them to shower after exercising, but I needed to wear them to exercise…
It was just an added complication. The lenses. And for that complication there was a monthly cost that I found to be an irritation, for some reason, despite the fact that I have pissy direct debits going out for Apple TV and internet storage and Google Workspace and Spotify and all sorts of other things. Holiday car excess insurance that I forgot to cancel, etc. I don’t know. They just weren’t for me.
But what was going to be for me? Well. Please hold caller, because there’s a marathon of an eye post coming on up…
*it was an invasive something or other that needed to come out and I was too lazy to fetch the spade, so thought that bending the trunk and stomping on it with both feet would be an amazing low-effort option. It wasn’t, I very – very – nearly lost an eye.