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Safety First: How to Remove a Stuck Contact Lens the Right Way

man rubbing his left eye

While a contact lens can’t get lost behind your eye, one can get stuck in your eye. While it's easy to insert and remove contact lenses after sufficient practice, occasionally, you may have one that seems stuck.

The first time this happens, you might be alarmed. But don’t be. Read on to learn how to remove a stuck contact lens in a safe manner, and you’ll be prepared if, and when, you find yourself dealing with a stuck contact.

How to Remove a Stuck Soft Contact Lens

Before you attempt to remove your stuck contact lens, stop! Aren’t you forgetting something? Yes, you need to wash your hands. Do so in a thorough fashion and dry your hands on a lint-free towel.

You want to make sure that contaminants don't add to the existing issue. Once you do, then you’re ready to check out where your contact is.

What if the Lens Is in the Right Location?

Most times, the contact gets stuck while centered on your cornea. In this case, it's possible that the lens dried out while in your eye. Alternatively, it can happen when you fall asleep without first removing your lenses.

If this happens, you need to rewet your eyes. Use a stream of sterile saline solution. Good alternatives include contact rewetting drops or artificial tears approved for use with contacts.

After rewetting, you need to close your eyes. Blink while keeping your eyes closed or gently massage the upper lid. Only stop when your lens moves. It's easy to feel, so you’ll know. If everything goes as planned, it won't be long until it floats off your eye’s surface.

What if the Lens Remains Stuck?

It’s possible for your contact lens to remain stuck, even after following the instructions above. If this persists, try repeating the previous steps a few more times. Remember to blink a lot each time you rinse your eyes. This helps the lens moisten and gives it a chance to move off the eye.

Don't feel discouraged or alarmed if the lens doesn't unstick, even after several tries. It can take several attempts and up to 15 minutes before the lens becomes rehydrated. It takes patience to remove a stuck contact lens.

But as soon as it moves freely, remove the lens as you normally would.

What if the Lens Gets Stuck Somewhere Else?

woman wondering how to remove stuck contact lens

This is a more complicated problem since you need to feel around for the contact lens. Once you feel its approximate location, move your eye by looking in the opposite direction. For example, move your eyes downward if you feel that your lens is under your upper eyelid.

Massage your eyelid and blink a lot. Do this gently. It can help your lens move to the center of your eye. This makes it easier for you to remove it, especially as it becomes more lubricated. So if you feel like the lens is dry, keep flushing with the sterile saline solution.

As we said, exercise patience. If you feel like it’s impossible and you want to give up, stop. Take a breath. Another breath. Stay calm, and try again. Once the lens shifts position, you can remove it like you usually do.

What if It’s a Gas Permeable Lens?

Hard contact lens on fingertip

A gas permeable (GP) lens is different from a soft contact lens. So if it gets stuck, you may have to use different methods to remove it.

The stuck lens may still be affected by dryness, so the first step is to use rewetting drops so that your eye is well lubricated. That, plus blinking with your eyes closed, may be enough to dislodge the lens to move it back to the center of your eye and come off as per usual.

But it’s critical that you avoid eyelid massages as the lens may scrape your eye. This can cause a painful and serious corneal abrasion.

If the lens is stuck on the white area (sclera) of your eye, and rewetting doesn’t help, use your fingertip to press your eye near the edge of the lens. Make sure you do this gently to break the suction. Once you do this, it will unstick the lens from your eye’s surface.

You can also use a small suction cup device. Most stores offer this product in their contact lens care aisles. You simply apply the suction cup part to the center of the lens. The contact then attaches to the suction cup without any issues. Gently pull the lens off of your eye’s surface. You're done!

What if Your Eye Hurts After Removal?

Young woman applying eye drops

Your eye may be irritated when you remove the lens. It probably won’t feel normal immediately. You can use sterile saline solution or artificial tears to moisten it for comfort. It may take some time to get relief, but it often works without any problems.

If you continue to experience discomfort and have any redness, then you may need medical attention. Persistent irritation needs checking by an optometrist as soon as possible. After all, it might be a symptom of a corneal abrasion. Corneal abrasions are a threat to your vision, so they need urgent treatment.

However, eye trauma is rare. It only accounts for around 3% of total emergency hospital visits. But remember, it's only improbable, not impossible. It's always safer to check with your optometrist to ensure you get the correct treatment.

Don’t Panic When You Have a Stuck Contact

If you're asking: "Can a contact lens get stuck?" Then the answer is yes. It might be infrequent, but it does happen sometimes. Since you now know how to remove a stuck contact lens, you can avoid an unnecessary trip to the optometrist’s office.

But if these techniques don't work, you need to visit your doctor. He or she can help remove your lens in a safe and efficient manner. It's better to pay for this instead of paying for treatment to correct any damage.

If you need a new set of contact lenses, you can easily order new ones online.

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