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

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A woman using her left index finger to pull her eyelid down while she puts a contact lens on her right eye with her right hand.

Even long-term contact lens wearers can experience a stuck lens—it’s a common complication. If this happens to you or a loved one, it’s okay—a shifted contact lens isn’t typically an emergency. Locating the contact lens is the first step to removing it from your eye. 

Blink, and you’ll miss it, but your contact lens isn’t invisible. You can tell if your lens is still in your eye by looking for the tint on the edge of your lens. If your lens is stuck in your eye, other signs it’s still there include redness and eye irritation.

With the right knowledge, you can safely remove your stuck lenses—and know when to call your optometrist for help. 

How to Find Your Stuck Contact Lens

It can be easy to panic if you lose sight of your contact lenses, but stay calm—the lens is likely somewhere near the front of your eye. It’s a myth that contacts can get stuck behind your eye—your conjunctiva, a thin layer of tissue lining your eye, prevents anything from shifting to the back of your eye. 

To find your contact lens, wash your hands and look in the mirror in a brightly lit bathroom. Your contact lenses should have a slight tint around the edges to help you find them, so look for the beginnings of your lens around the front side of your eye. 

If the lens is stubbornly hard to find, pull your lower eyelid down and follow with the upper eyelid—your lens can get stuck under your eyelids.

While a contact lens can fall out of the eye, it’s more likely that your lens has dried out or moved if you’ve recently rubbed your eyes and you can’t see through it anymore. You may not see a lost contact lens immediately, but you may feel it when you experience redness and irritation. 

How to Remove a Stuck Contact Lens

Sometimes, you can shift a contact lens into place by blinking or gently rubbing your eyelid with clean fingers. Hydrating your eye with eye drops safe for contact lenses may also help loosen the lens so you can remove it. 

The steps to remove a stuck contact lens depend on the type of contact lenses you have, which have differences in how you handle them

  • Soft lenses: Soft contact lenses may dry out if left too long without hydration. You can nudge these lenses out of your eye after washing your hands by gently grabbing the lens with your fingers or gently massaging it from under your eyelid. 
  • Rigid lenses: Rigid lenses can be more susceptible to debris getting stuck under the lens due to their shape, so be careful removing these lenses to avoid potential complications like a scratch to your cornea. To remove a stuck rigid contact lens, gently press your finger down on the lens’s edge to slightly lift it, then carefully lift it out by the edge of the lens. 

Don’t force your contact lens out if it’s stuck—contact your eye doctor instead. We have the expertise and equipment to safely remove stuck contact lenses. 

How Do Contact Lenses Get Stuck? 

Contact lenses can shift during wear for several reasons. In some cases, you might move the lens away from the centre of your eye when you rub your eyes. In other cases, a lens can be knocked out of position. 

Contact lenses can also dry out throughout the day, which can cause them to get stuck. You can keep your contact lenses moist to avoid those problems. If your eyes feel dry when you wear contacts, you may also be experiencing dry eye issues, which can make wearing traditional contact lenses difficult.

Take Care of Your Contacts

Follow these general tips to avoid contact lens-related complications: 

  • Remove, clean, and disinfect your contact lenses properly on the schedule your eye doctor recommends.
  • Don’t wear contact lenses longer than recommended by your optometrist.
  • Don’t sleep wearing contact lenses unless otherwise approved to do so by your eye doctor. 
  • Avoid using eye medications or eye drops not approved for use with contact lenses—remember to ask your optometrist. 

Another important part of not only contact lens care but also your general eye health is getting regular eye exams. These eye exams help us identify potential problems with your vision and eyes. Additionally, they provide an opportunity to discuss concerns about your contact lenses and ask any questions you may have. 

A woman in an optometry clinic shaking hands with her male  optometrist.

Enjoy Your Contact Lenses with Discover Eyecare

While contact lenses can become stuck from time to time, you can avoid that problem with guidance and a proper fitting from your eye doctor. Your contact lenses should meet your unique needs, which we can help you identify during a contact lens exam. Contact the optometrists at Discover Eyecare in Abbotsford and Chilliwack for contact lens exams, fittings, and answers to your vision-related questions. We’re here for your contact lens needs, whatever they may be.

Written by Dr. Jonathan Laudadio

Jonathan was born and raised in Quebec. He moved to Abbotsford, BC, where he attended high school before moving on to UBC for his undergrad. Jonathan completed his Doctorate of Optometry at the Université de Montréal in 2004 with some training at the Portland VA Medical Centre. He has been in private practice since graduating and has worked six years in a laser surgery/ophthalmology clinic. He is a very proud father of 2 girls, plays sports, loves his Montreal Canadiens, and baseball.
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