Stuck contact lens in eye: How to remove
Having a contact stuck in your eye happens to nearly all contact lens wearers sooner or later. Removing a stuck contact lens is easy once you learn a few tips.
And don't worry — a contact lens cannot get lost behind your eye.
Removing a stuck soft contact lens
Usually, a contact lens that gets stuck in the eye is a soft lens. The first step is to wash your hands thoroughly. Then determine the location of the contact lens in your eye.
If the contact stuck in your eye is properly centered on your cornea, the lens has probably dried out. This sometimes occurs if you fall asleep while wearing your contact lenses.
In this case, rinse the stuck contact and your eye for a few seconds with a steady stream of sterile saline, multipurpose contact lens solution or contact lens rewetting drops. Then close your eye and gently massage your upper lid until you feel the lens move.
If the lens remains stuck, repeat this rinsing step several times, blinking frequently after each rinse to help the lens move. It may take several rinses and up to 10 minutes for the lens to become rehydrated so it's movable.
Once the lens moves freely, remove it as you normally would.
If your eye feels dry or irritated after removing the contact lens, lubricate your eye with sterile saline or artificial tears. If your eye remains irritated, see an optician immediately. This may be a sign that you have a corneal abrasion that may need medical attention.
If the contact stuck in your eye is off the center of your eye, move your eye in the opposite direction of where you think the lens may be. For example, if you think the lens is stuck under your upper eyelid, look down.
Gently massage your eyelid and blink frequently to move the lens to the center of your eye so you can remove it. If necessary, rinse your eye with sterile saline, multipurpose solution or rewetting drops to loosen the lens.
If an off-center soft contact lens remains stuck far behind your eyelid, try putting a new contact lens on the eye and blink normally. This can help "draw out" the stuck lens to the center of the eye where it can be easily removed.
SEE RELATED: Contact lens do's and don'ts
Removing a GP contact lens stuck in your eye
If the contact stuck in your eye is a hard gas permeable contact lens, the removal technique is different. You want to avoid massaging your eyelid, as this may cause the gas permeable (GP) lens to abrade the eye.
If the lens is stuck on the white of the eye, use the pad of your fingertip to gently press your eye just outside the edge of the lens to break the suction that is keeping the contact stuck in the eye.
Another option is to use a small "suction cup" device sold in the contact lens care section of drug stores. Gently press the concave end of this device onto the center of the GP lens, and it will adhere to the lens. Then gently pull the lens off the surface of your eye.
When you can't remove a stuck contact lens
If none of these techniques work, call an optician immediately to have him or her (or a staff member) remove the lens for you as soon as possible.
READ MORE: Contact lens tips
Page published in June 2020
Page updated in February 2022