How to get a lost or stuck contact lens out of your eye

Medically reviewed by Tina Patel, Contact Lens Optician at Feel Good Contacts.

A contact lens that gets stuck in the eye is usually a soft contact lens rather than a gas permeable lens. However, it is possible for both to get stuck and it’s wise to be aware that removing a soft contact lens is very different to removing a rigid gas permeable lens.

Getting a contact lens stuck in your eye happens very occasionally and can be uncomfortable and irritating. A common reason for lenses getting stuck can be due to dryness. Here are some quick and easy solutions for releasing a troublesome lens.

How to remove a stuck lens from your eye?

The first rule about how to remove a contact lens that’s stuck in your eye is not to panic; trying to pry the lens out may cause more discomfort.

Tips for removing a stuck soft contact lens

  1. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly before attempting to remove the lens from your eye so that you avoid getting any bacteria from your hands going in your eye and causing an infection.
  2. Locate the lens - take a close look in the mirror to see whether the lens is still on your cornea or to see if it has moved under the eyelid.
  3. If the lens is stuck on the cornea, it may have lost moisture and become rigid, making it difficult to move off the eye.
  4. Add a few drops of eye drops to your eye (not contact lens solution) to hydrate the lens which will help move the lens around. Make sure that these eye drops are safe to use with lenses, our comfi Soothe Drops are a great choice.
  5. If the lens has moved under the eyelid or to the corner of your eye, close your eyes and gently massage the lid towards the centre so that the lens moves towards the cornea. You should then be able to pinch or slide the lens carefully to remove it.
  6. Remember, if you cannot manage to remove your lenses, go straight to your optician. They will be able to do so with the use of fluorescein which will help to make the lenses visible for them to see. If your optician is not available at that time, you should go to your nearest A&E department.

Tips for removing a gas permeable contact lens from your eye

If you are wearing gas permeable lenses and they get stuck in your eye, you must avoid massaging your eyelid as this can cause abrasion to the eye. Instead, use plenty of eye drops as lubricant and try to remove the lens gently. Failing this, we recommend you see your optician immediately.

What to do if you can't remove a stuck contact lens

If the lens remains after following the above steps, we advise you to seek medical advice from a doctor or an eye specialist. This should be done as soon as possible to prevent any further problems from occurring.

Tips to prevent contacts getting lost or stuck in your eye

You may be used to wearing lenses but please bear in mind that switching to a new lens type or lens care regime without consulting with your optician first can lead to complications and difficulties when removing your lenses.

Avoid sleeping in lenses

Unless you have been prescribed extended wear contact lenses, never sleep in your contact lenses - this can limit the oxygen flow to your cornea and dry out your eyes. In addition, you also increase the risk of infection.

If you fall asleep in your lenses you risk the lens bonding to the cornea, making it hard to remove. If you have fallen asleep in your lenses, you shouldn’t attempt to remove them straight away. Wait at least 30 minutes before attempting to remove the lens and use eye drops to hydrate the lens first before you attempt to remove the lens. This will make it easier to remove. Do not use your contact lens solution or tap water. Once removed, leave your lenses out for a few hours or for the day. If you have any concerns, you should seek advice from your optician.

Do not rub your eyes

Rubbing your eyes can cause the contact lens to move off your cornea which may cause it to fold and move under your upper lid. In addition to this, it can cause bacteria to transfer and move around your eye.

Wear the correct prescription lenses

Everyone’s eyes are shaped differently, therefore you cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach to contact lenses. Always stick to the lenses prescribed by your optician. If you intend on trying new lenses, make sure you consult with your optician or eye care professional first. Trying new lenses without expert advice can run the risk of them fitting too tightly to your cornea, making it hard to get out of the eye.

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