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How to Tell If a Contact Lens Is Still in Your Eye

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A young woman trying to remove a contact lens on her left eye.

What do you do when you blink and suddenly something isn’t quite right with your eye? Maybe you’ve rubbed it, thinking a speck of dust was the culprit, only to realize your contact lens might be the issue. Before panic sets in, there are a few simple steps you can take to locate that elusive lens. 

You can find a contact lens in your eye by using a mirror to examine the area where the white part of your eye meets your iris and look for the subtle tint or edge of the contact lens

It’s also possible for contact lenses to become folded up on your eye or tucked under an eyelid, in which case you may need to blink a few times or gently pull the skin near your upper and lower eyelid to find the lens. 

If all else fails and you’re experiencing discomfort, you can also contact your eye doctor for emergency care. We’re ready to help with a wide variety of eye health emergencies, including a stuck or missing contact lens. We can also help you find new contact lenses and provide guidance on avoiding issues like a stuck contact. 

How to avoid a stuck contact lens infographic.

How Do You Know If a Contact Lens Is Stuck in Your Eye?

Several signs might indicate a contact lens is stuck in your eye:

  • Redness and irritation: One of the most immediate reactions to a foreign object in your eye, including a misplaced contact lens, is often redness and irritation.
  • Blurry vision: If your contact lens shifts out of place, your vision may become blurrier.
  • Feelings of discomfort: Even if you can’t see a contact lens, you might feel its presence as the sensation of something being in your eye.
  • An inability to locate the lens: If you can’t see the lens after checking if it’s still in your eye, but you are experiencing discomfort, it might be stuck in an unusual position.

Any time issues like these affect your eyes or vision, you should visit an eye doctor. During an eye exam, we can help find lost or stuck lenses and find out if there may be other reasons for the symptoms you’re experiencing. 

How to Remove a Stuck Contact Lens from Your Eye

If your contact lens is stuck, avoid panicking and follow these steps:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Blink a few times to help dislodge folded or stuck lenses.
  • Try using rewetting eye drops made for contacts to float the lens back onto your eye.
  • Stand in front of a mirror and gently massage your upper or lower eyelid while looking to the side where you think the lens is.

A folded or inside-out lens may be harder to remove. Try rotating it slowly with a gentle pinch. If the lens still doesn’t move—or you can’t find it—stop and seek help from an eye doctor. Further attempts to remove a stuck lens could cause damage to your eye. 

How to Remove a Piece of a Contact Lens

If your contact lens is damaged or torn, it can be slightly more difficult to remove depending on the size of the pieces still in your eye. You may be able to wash smaller pieces out with eye drops, but you may need to remove larger pieces by hand. 

Here are the basic steps:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Blink gently to help move the lens fragment toward the front of your eye.
  • Use lubricating eye drops to help moisten your eye and float the fragment to a location where it can be seen.
  • Look closely in a mirror to try and locate the fragment. Try using the magnification on your phone’s camera to help you see more clearly.
  • Seek professional help if you can’t find or remove the piece or experience increasing pain, redness, or vision issues.
A woman in her robes washing her hands.

How Do You Remove Contacts Without Pinching Them?

Depending on the type of contact lenses you use, you may have a few options for removing them without pinching them.

In any situation where you’re removing contact lenses—but especially if they feel stuck—it’s important to be patient and careful. If what you’re doing causes discomfort, your discomfort increases, or you’re unsure about what you’re doing, stop and visit an eye doctor.

For Soft Contact Lenses 

Try to slide the lens down to the lower part of your eye and then gently compress it. It can also help to look up while you attempt to slide or gently pull the lens toward the white part of your eye.

For Rigid Gas-Permeable Contact Lenses

You should never attempt to slide a rigid contact lens across your eye, as doing so could scratch your cornea.

Instead, you may be able to gently press your fingertip against the edge of the lens to separate it from the surface of your eye. You may also be able to use a contact lens applicator—a small device that works like a suction cup—to lift the contact off your eye. 

Get Help with All Your Contact Lens Needs

Our mission to help enhance your quality of life and support your family extends to even the smallest issues with contact lenses. Whether you can’t find a lens in your eye or you need help managing dry eyes while you wear contacts, you can visit Calgary Optometry Centre

Visit us for emergency eye care at any of our 3 locations, or book an appointment to get a personalized contact lens exam and fitting. 

Written by Dr. Kent Prete

An active member of the Canadian Association of Optometrists, the Alberta Association of Optometrists, and the Alberta College of Optometrists, Dr. Prete lives his passion every day when he sees his patients. Dr. Prete has spoken at over 100 professional events over the last almost 20 years. A keen educator and confident doctor, Dr. Prete is nearly as passionate about educating other eye care professionals as he is about caring for and educating his patients!
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