Though I have worn corrective lenses for over twenty years and have become quite accustomed to the presence of eyeglasses on my face, there was a period where I wanted so badly to not wear glasses that I decided to try contact lenses instead.

The experiment was largely unsuccessful. Though I enjoyed the flexibility to wear whatever pair of sunglasses caught my fancy that week, I couldn't be bothered to follow the directions I had been given regarding the proper care and maintenance of my contact lenses. It seems silly, looking back now as a married adult who has learned how to manage a household and maintain a daily hygiene routine. But back in those days, I was a lot more of a slob, and my contacts paid the price on more than one occasion.

With that in mind, here are three of the worst things I did regarding the care and maintenance of my contacts. I encourage you to learn from my example, and avoid these mistakes that I used to commit.

Lenses put in backwards:

A soft contact lens can flip inside out, and it's not always easy to spot a lens that has been flipped. Before you insert it, it is always a good idea to check the edges of the lens: if the edges point upwards, it's fine, but if they flare out to the sides, the lens is inside out. I know I put backwards lenses in more than once, and I remember that I would experience discomfort that led to the discovery of my mistake, after which I would simply put the flipped lens back in.

A flipped lens can also present trouble if it is jarred. Enough jostling, and the lens can flip while still inside your eye. I had this happen at least once--the lens folded over itself, and ended up wedged under my eyelid. Of course, this would happen far away from my lens case and solution, and rather than waste what I considered a perfectly good lens, I would put the righted lens back in my eye and let the tears do the cleaning.

If you get in the habit of checking the orientation of your lenses after wearing them (while you're cleaning them is as good a time as any), as well as before inserting them, the odds of putting them in backwards will be greatly reduced.

Skipping lens cleaning:

It's been over a decade since I had to deal with contact lenses, but I still remember how I was supposed to clean them. I had a single bottle of solution for storing them and cleaning them, which was a novelty at the time. They had made it easy for me--just remove the lens, put it in its case, swish it around in some solution with your finger, then put clean solution in the case and recap. Repeat with other lens, taking care to put them in their assigned sides. Simple.

Unfortunately, I couldn't even be bothered to do that much. I'm not proud of my youthful impetuousness, but before long, I would just pop the lenses out, stick them back in their cases with a squirt of solution, and leave them for the next day. As such, they would develop build-up of grime, dust and tiny fibers. All that stuff would irritate my eyes, and I'd have no idea until it was too late.

Prolonging lens life too long:

Disposable means disposable. I know now that when they assign a limited life span to a product, there's usually a very good reason for it. As a know-it-all kind of teenager, I figured I could play it fast and loose with the expiration date on my lenses, so my one-month soft disposable contact lenses became three- to four-month disposables. Combine that with intermittent cleaning, and the results aren't pretty. One pair got so bad it split apart on my eyeball.

Perhaps I would have been a prime candidate for one-day, single use, or discount contact lenses. That would have eliminated the cleaning issue, but I couldn't justify the expense. (Lazy and cheap are a bad pair of qualities to have together.) I switched back to glasses because it seemed like the easiest thing to do. I realize now that it was simply my immaturity that made me loath to take responsibility for the care and maintenance not just of the things I owned, but of my body itself. You only get one pair of eyes in this life--there's no excuse for subjecting them to dirty, worn-out contact lenses.