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How to Remove a Stuck Contact Lens

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A woman removing a contact lens on her left eye using her left hand, while looking in the mirror.

Contact lenses are a popular alternative to glasses for people who want clearer vision without having to rely only on frames. While they are generally safe, wearing contact lenses comes with risks, such as eye infections, irritation, and dry eyes. One of the most troublesome situations for contact lens wearers can be when a contact lens gets stuck in their eye.

With clean hands, you can use artificial tears and gently massage the eyelid to dislodge a stuck contact lens. However, if you’re getting contact lenses stuck in your eye often or are struggling with contact lens wear, the team at Dr. Henslick Vision Center can perform a comprehensive eye exam and see if your current contact lenses are the best option for your eyes.

How Do Contact Lenses Get Stuck? 

Any contact lens wearer can experience stuck contact lenses, but it’s more common when your lenses are exposed to certain conditions, such as:

  • Dry eyes
  • Eye rubbing
  • Water
  • Overnight wear
  • Damage

Dry Eyes

One of the most common reasons contact lenses get stuck is dry eyes. If your natural tears cannot provide moisture to your contact lenses, they may stick to your cornea.

This can be very uncomfortable, and if you try to remove them forcefully, you may cause a scratch or abrasion to your eyes. To avoid this, use artificial tears that are compatible with your contact lenses, and try to avoid wearing lenses for extended periods, especially in dry environments.

Rubbing Your Eyes

Another reason contact lenses can get stuck is due to rubbing your eyes. When you touch your eyes too often, you increase the likelihood of the lens moving out of position. Rubbing your eyes too hard with contact lenses can leave scratches on your cornea, leading to inflammation, light sensitivity, and irritation.

The lenses may become stuck on your cornea or even under your eyelids. Because of the design of contact lenses, they can’t get lost behind your eye, but if you’re having trouble finding the lens, flip the lids and flush the eye out with saline.

Swimming or Showering

Swimming or showering with your contact lenses on is risky. Chlorine and other chemicals in the water can cause your lenses to absorb water and become swollen, making them stick to your eyes. Wearing your contact lenses in water can also introduce germs into the eye that can cause infection.

Sleeping in Your Contact Lenses

Whether you accidentally doze off with your contacts in or take a seemingly harmless nap, sleeping in your contact lenses is another common cause of them getting stuck. When you sleep with your lenses on, you reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your cornea, drying out your contact lenses.

This can lead to swelling, which can cause your lenses to stick to your eyes. It’s important to only wear contact lenses for the time recommended by your optometrist and make a habit of disposing of them on time.

Wearing Damaged Lenses

Torn or damaged lenses can be challenging to insert and remove, which makes them more likely to get stuck. If you wear a damaged lens, it can cause a scratch in the cornea, leading to an eye infection. If the lens tears while in your eye, the pieces may become difficult to take out, and you’ll need to take steps to patiently remove them.

Removing a Stuck Contact Lens

Stuck contact lenses can feel uncomfortable and irritating as you remove them, but you can typically safely remove them with a few steps.

Wash Your Hands

The first step in removing a stuck contact lens is to make sure your hands are clean and dry. Dirty or oily hands can make the process more challenging and may even irritate your eyes. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and dry them well before attempting to remove the lens.

Relax Your Eye

To remove a stuck contact lens, relax your eye by blinking a few times or closing it for a few seconds. This helps release any tension and lets you locate the lens easily. Try not to rub your eye excessively, as this can worsen and damage the cornea.

Use Lubricating Eye Drops

If your lens is stuck due to dryness or after sleeping, it may be helpful to use some lubricating eye drops. This will help to loosen the lens and make it easier to remove. Apply a few drops to your eye and wait for a few seconds before attempting to remove the lens.

Gently Massage Your Eyelid

Another technique that can help to remove a stuck contact lens is to gently massage your eyelid. This can help to dislodge the lens and enable you to remove it quickly. Use your index finger to massage your eyelid in a circular motion while keeping your eye closed.

Seek Professional Help

If all else fails, seek professional help from your optometrist, and don’t try to remove the lens forcefully, as this can lead to further complications. Your eye doctor will have the tools and techniques to safely and efficiently remove the stubborn lens.

A female optometrist examining the eyes of a woman using a medical device to detect potential eye problems.

Comfortable Contact Lenses

Stuck contact lenses can happen when you’ve worn them too long or didn’t remove them before a shower or nap. But if your lenses are getting stuck in your eyes often, even while taking proper care of them, schedule an appointment at Dr. Henslick Vision Center for a comprehensive eye exam and contact lens fitting.

Written by Total Vision

At Total Vision, we pride ourselves on ensuring healthy eyes for the whole family and work hard to help all our patients look, feel, and see better. With many locations throughout California, we continue to set new industry standards for professionalism and quality. We empower all our partners to offer leading-edge testing, treatment, and eyewear. With the support of our entire network behind each care provider, patients all over the state can enjoy consistent quality and incredible value.
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