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What to do if a contact lens is stuck in your eye

How do you remove a stuck lens from your eye?

Contact lens beginners are typically a bit intimidated by touching their eyes and may have issues removing the lenses. But even year-long contact lens experts occasionally encounter a troublesome lens.  

When a lens appears stuck, it can sit either on the cornea, too dry and stiff to remove easily, or it could be under the eyelid, where it causes a foreign body feeling.  

Some tips and tricks can help you to remove lenses that are stuck.  

Tips for removing a stuck soft contact lens

Before trying to remove a contact lens, it is important that you always wash your hands with water and dry them, ideally on a kitchen towel, to avoid fuzz on your hands.  

To remove the lens, you will first need to locate whether it has moved under the eyelid or is still on your cornea.  

If the lens is centred, still providing vision correction on the cornea but doesn’t budge when you try to move it, it is possible that the lens has lost its moisture, decreasing its elasticity and therefore making it harder to pinch and move off the eye.  

A few drops of contact lens safe wetting eye drops added to your eyes will help move the lens around the eye. Add the eye drops and gently massage your closed eye to distribute the moisture, which will help to lubricate and restore the elasticity of contacts on the cornea, allowing it to come off easily. 

If the lens in not sitting centred but moved under the lid or off to the corner of your eye, try closing your eyes and gently massaging the lens towards the centre of your cornea, where you should be able to lift the lens with carefully pinching fingers.  

Flushing the eye with eye drops before trying to move it out from under the lid can also help to dislodge a lens, making the removal process easier. 

It is important to remain calm during while removing a stuck lens and remember that, even if you are unable to remove the contact lens yourself, and you may start to feel irritation and discomfort, an eye care professional can help you. 


When to consult professional help

Luckily, contact lenses stuck in the eye are not an immediate emergency or risk to your eye health if they can be removed within 24 hours.  

Feeling pain or discomfort

If you tried to remove the lenses but experienced difficulties, it is possible that your eye will feel sore and irritated after several tries. In this case it is important to remain calm and take a break, rather than continuously trying to remove the lens and risking the front surface of your eye to be scratched, which can cause further irritation. 

However, should you not be able to remove them yourself, please always consult your eye care specialist for help. 

Can the lens get lost behind the eye?

No, contact lenses cannot get lost behind the eye. The muscles surrounding your eyeball and the conjunctival membrane make it impossible for the lenses to move behind the eye. 

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Tips to prevent contacts getting lost or stuck in your eye

Even if you wear contact lenses regularly, switching to a new lens type or changing your routine can cause difficulties with wearing or removing the lenses.  

Sleeping in lenses

Unless you wear an extended wear lens designed to be worn overnight, wearing contact lenses overnight can cause them to lose some of their moisture and, in turn, reduces the elasticity of the lens. Therefore, dry lenses tend to be harder to remove from the eyes.  

If you fall asleep in your lenses, do not try to remove them immediately after waking up but begin to rehydrate by drinking water and allowing your tired eyes to regain some of their natural moisture. This will make removal of the lenses much easier.  

It is also important to note that keeping your eyes lubricated throughout the day can prevent a lens from sticking to the cornea. Single use vials of lubricating eye drops are ideal to carry with you and re-wet your eyes during the day.  

Wearing prescription lenses

Contact lenses are not a one-size product, as everyone’s eyes are shaped differently. Therefore, it is important to only wear contact lenses that your optician prescribed. Trying new lenses without asking your eye health professional beforehand could run the risk of them fitting too tightly on your cornea, which is not only uncomfortable but also increases the chances that they will be difficult to remove at the end of the day. 

Avoid rubbing your eyes

Even if your eyes are tired, dry or itching, try not to rub them. Rubbing your eyes can not only cause bacteria to move around the eye, but it is also possible that you move your contact lens off the cornea, causing it to fold and move under the eyelid.  


Reasons why contact lenses are difficult to remove 

There are a few different causes for difficulties when it comes to removing contact lenses. It can simply be an adjustment period when you first start using new lenses, or recently switched to a new lens type. In most cases, however, is caused by dry eyes which can lead to dry and stiff contact lenses.   

Preventing your eyes from drying 

In their natural state, eyes are surrounded by a lubricating tear film, keeping them healthy and protecting them from environmental impacts, such as dust. The tear film is a combination of aqueous, mucin and lipids and covers the front surface of the eyes.  

Factors like dry air can cause your eyes to lose their natural moisture, but so can sleep. Sometimes when we sleep our eyelids don’t close all the way, causing the tear film to evaporate which can contribute to dry eyes in the morning.  

Dry eyes can be treated with lubricating or wetting eye drops, which function as artificial tears to rehydrate your eyes. It is important that you ask your optician for advice to find out which eye drops are suitable for your eyes and can be used in combination with contact lenses.  

If you notice that your eyes are persistently dry, it is recommended to schedule an appointment with your optometrist, as this could indicate a case of chronic dry eye.  

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Lenses keep popping out of the eye

You may not have the issue of removing the lenses but rather struggle with a lens that moves off the centre of your eye and falls out easily. This is typically caused by external factors, as soft contact lenses are unlikely to move around, even during heavy sport activities.  

What causes the lens to fall out?

Soft contact lenses are made to withhold extreme activities, as well as weather conditions. Only rarely can a lens dislodge from the centre of the eye and fall out due to heavy wind or excessive head movement. 

Rubbing your eyes, for example when they are itching or irritated, can move the lens around and cause it to fall out of your eye.   

If you insert your lens the wrong way round, you typically feel this immediately as the lens will not be able to settle properly on the centre of your eye. In this case, the otherwise comfortable lens feels like a foreign object and tends to slide off the eye easily. 

When you are trialling new contact lenses and they are not the right fit, you may also feel them moving around your eyes. In this case, inform your optometrist about this during the follow-up appointment so they can re-fit you with a contact lens that is suitable for your eyes.  

If you experience any issues with your contact lenses we advise that you book an appointment with your optometrist to check if your contact lenses are still suitable & receive an up to date prescription. If you are already a Lenstore customer and live in the UK you are entitled to free appointments with Vision Express (click here to book). Once you have made sure the your eyes are in good shape and prescription is up to date have a browse through our amazing range of contact lenses & coloured lenses.

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