Childhood Memories Friday: Contact Lenses in the ’80s

Childhood Memories FridayOne of the big thrills in my life came in 1982, when I was a high school senior. After about 9 years with glasses, I got contacts. It was like a miracle: I could see, but didn’t have to keep cleaning my glasses, pushing them up my nose, worrying about them steaming up in the winter, you name it. But contacts in the ’80s were not the same as the contacts of today.

Caring for soft contacts involved saline solution and separate cleaning drops. Then, the contact case had to be put into a disinfecting unit which was plugged into the wall. There the contacts would disinfect all night. After awhile, some of the saline would leach out and a salty crust would form in parts of the unit.

Once a week, I’d clean my contacts with enzymes. There was a nifty little device to put the contacts in, and then I’d submerge that into another container filled with the fizzy enzyme cleaners.

Now, it’s so nice to do everything with a single solution. It almost feels too easy.

Then there was the cost. Losing a contact was a major trauma because it seems like a pair of contacts cost about $100 back then. Now, a 6-pack of the same contacts runs around $20. It’s gratifying to see something that’s actually come down in price, and contacts are a prime example. I have to admit though that old memories die hard – it still feels a little bad to throw an old contact away when I get new ones. I always feel the urge to rescue the little guy out of the trash before he dries out and becomes completely unusable.

How about you – if you have contacts, do you have any funny contact stories to share or memories about getting them for the first time?

9 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: Contact Lenses in the ’80s

  1. And then when Extended Wear lenses became available! It was revolutionary to actually be able to wake up, open my eyes, and just SEE!

    I gave up wearing contacts a couple of years ago – and that’s the thing I miss most. I’m, by nature, blind as a bat. 🙂

  2. I’ve never worn them. I can’t imagine having something foreign directly on my eye.

  3. Ooh I want extended wear lenses! When can I get contacts? 😉

    “I always feel the urge to rescue the little guy out of the trash before he dries out and becomes completely unusable.” aww poor contact…

  4. I remember my first contacts – 1979 – junior high. I ended up with hard lenses due to astigmatism. I later got to switch to soft lenses, so I remember the enzymatic cleaner, the heat disinfection, etc. I love the new Bio True solution – expensive, but the only one that doesn’t irritate my eyes.

    Contact horror story – I learned the hard way about the rules of hours to wear contacts. I went about a week or two without wearing them )no clue why – had coke bottle-bottom glasses). Then, I wore them the next day for about 18 hours. During the time off, my corneas got used to plenty of oxygen, then I seriously deprived them. So, I ended up with oxygen bubbles in the cornea, which felt like someone poking needles in my eyes! Never do that again!

    Second horror story – learn to NOT rub your eyes when wearing contacts after pumping gas! OUCH!

    With astigmatism, my contacts are a bit pricier for the one eye – $60 a box.

    Susan – I remember you switching to contacts in high school! Those were the days, right? High school choir with Mr. Prout, math with Mr. Stickles, etc?

  5. I got contacts for the first time in ninth grade which was the same year we had to take swimming class. Horrors! I lost one trying to put it in before rushing to my last class. When I got home, my mom suggested we look for it and we found it in a wet puddle of the locker room. We tried the whole disinfecting thing, but unfortunately the contact was never the same and we had to buy a new one. I am thankful contacts are cheaper now. The other day, my five year old threw a new pair out when he was “helping clean the bathroom”!

  6. Only you and your mother would find a contact in a school locker room! You are miracle workers!

  7. Laughing as I remember almost giving up learning to put them in!! And remember the pain of putting HOT contacts in my eyes the minute the “cooker” shut off from sterilizing them!

  8. I wear glasses but spent a bit of time in contacts. The first time I used the extended wear contacts, I remember saying how wonderful it was to wake up in the morning and immediately be able to see! I stopped using contacts due to price (I know it’s better now) but also we found that my eyes were deteriorating faster — we decided I wasn’t getting enough oxygen through the lenses.

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