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Contact Lost in Your Eye? Here’s What You Should Do

Woman rubbing her eye

Oh dear! You broke the golden rule of contact lens wearers. Your eye was itching so badly that you had to rub it.

Then, you noticed that awful feeling of your contact lens becoming dislodged. It slipped somewhere in your eye and now you don't know where it is. You’ve gotten a contact lost in your eye! At this point, you're in far more discomfort than you were before. Plus, you're cursing yourself for being so silly!

Don't worry, you're not the only one. At some point, most of the millions of contact lens wearers in the US have lost a contact in their eye.

Follow these steps to quickly and easily remove that rogue contact.

Step 1: Don't Panic!

Panicked emoticon character

Okay, panic a little, but understand that there’s no reason to.

Your first reaction when you realize you’ve lost your contact in your eye may be one of panic. So you’re entitled to your fear. Where did it go? If you wear gas permeable contacts, you may wonder if it can cut your optic nerve. Will it lodge itself in your brain?

Don't worry. Your contact can't do much harm to you. Your eye has a membrane called the conjunctiva, which attaches the front of your eye to your eyelid. The contact won't be able to go past that. It may be uncomfortable for a bit, but you don't have to worry about losing the lens forever.

Step 2: Rinse and Flush

Man using eye drops for contact lost in eye

Due to the irritation, your eye will naturally produce a lot of tears. The reason is that your eye is trying to flush out the foreign object. You can help it out by using rewetting drops or a saline solution.

Remember to use only approved fluids in your eye. Don't even try to flush your eye with regular water because it’s not sterile. Bacteria and microorganisms from tap water can get into your eye. This can cause infections.

Instead, stick with a saline solution or artificial tears. Add a few drops of your chosen solution and blink a few times. The contact may move to the front of the eye on its own. Then you can easily grab hold of it and pull it out of your eye as you normally would.

Remember never to put solutions in your eye that contain hydrogen peroxide. They can burn your corneas and cause blindness.

Step 3: Fish It Out

Woman removing contact lens from her eye

Simply flushing with the eye drops won't always work. You may have to do a bit of extra work to get the contact out.

Try to determine exactly where the contact is in your eye. This can be difficult, as the discomfort makes it hard to pinpoint where the lens is. You can also try looking for the contact if you’re still able to see. Gently pry open your eyelid while looking in the mirror. See if you can find the slightly tinted blue or green edge of your contact.

Once you locate the lens, look in the opposite direction. For example, most of the time, contacts get stuck behind your upper eyelid. It's larger and stronger than your lower lid and can tend to pull the contact up. If you find the contact up there and to the left, then look down and to the right. Or vice versa, depending upon its location.

In this position, gently massage your upper eyelid to bring the contact down. With a bit of patience, this technique usually brings the contact to the front where you can reach in and remove it.

If you’re wearing hard contacts, do not do the eye massage, as it can scratch your cornea. Instead, pop it out with your fingertip or use the suction cup included in your kit.

Step 4: Invert Your Eyelid

Most of the time, there won’t be a need to go beyond step 3. But for those rare times when you can't quite get your contact lens out, there's a more extreme method.

Be warned though: it's not for the faint of heart. If you're squeamish, this may be a little difficult. It's also hard to perform on yourself. So if you can get some help from another contact wearer, that may work out better for you.

For this technique, you'll need to invert your eyelid. Looking downwards, gently hold your eyelashes and pull downward and out. Place a cotton swab on your eyelid. Then gently flip your eyelid up over the cotton swab to invert it.

In most cases, this will either expel the contact or reveal it for you to be able to grab it.

A Stuck Contact

What if your contact is not simply lost but actually stuck to your eye? This is more likely to happen with rigid gas permeable contacts. It’s less likely to happen with a really dry soft contact lens, but it can still occur. With a soft contact, just keep rewetting your eyes and blinking until the lens moves. Then you can take it out.

In the case of rigid gas permeable contacts, you should not massage the eye, as we mentioned earlier. You don’t want to risk corneal abrasions.

Add a few eye drops to cushion and moisten, then gently push on your eye next to the contact to break the suction seal. Once the seal breaks, it should be easy to remove the contact as you normally would.

For a particularly stuck contact, you can get a suction cup device from the drugstore. Use the suction to firmly grab hold of the contact and break the seal that the lens has with your eye.

That Wasn't so Hard!

woman in jean jacket smiling and pulling hair back

Admittedly, it’s very uncomfortable to have a contact lost in your eye. But it's not impossible to get it out. With the right tools and a little bit of patience, you'll be good to go in no time.

Even if you've worn contact lenses for years, you may not know everything there is about them. In that case, we hope we've helped you with some valuable info. So the next time you have a contact lost in your eye, you’ll know what to do. You’re still entitled to panic first, though - but only if you want to.

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