Having trouble taking out your contacts? Don’t panic—even though a stuck contact lens is far from comfortable, most of the time it isn’t cause for concern. You can easily remove it—all it takes is a little bit of patience while following a few simple steps you’ll find in this guide.

Disclaimer: This guide represents the opinion of its authors and is for educational or informational purposes only; it should not be used as a substitution for advice provided by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. Readers with immediate need for assistance should contact their eye doctor or visit the emergency room.

How To Get a Stuck Contact Lens Out of Your Eye

To remove a stuck contact lens, consider the type of contacts you’re using (i.e., soft versus hard contacts) and where the contact lens is stuck in your eye. Here are some of the common issues you may face and steps you can take to safely remove your contacts.

A Stuck Soft Contact Lens Is Centered on the Eye

Infographic illustrating the steps to remove a stuck soft contact lens

The most common reason for a soft contact lens getting stuck is that it simply has dried out. The lack of moisture can cause the lens to stick to the center of your eye. This might occur if you sleep with your contacts in. (Please don’t do that!)

If a soft contact lens is stuck to the center of your eye:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly. Unclean hands can transfer natural oils, germs, and dirt to your lens and eye. This can increase your risk for eye infection.
  2. Rinse your stuck contact lens and eye. Allow a steady stream of saline solution, rewetting drops, or sterile eye wash to flow over your contact lens and eye for a few seconds. Do not use your contact solution as an eye wash. Some lubricating eye drops could work as an alternative, but only if they’re approved for use with contacts.
  3. Blink. A lot. Blinking after you rinse helps to not only moisturize the contact lens (with natural tear production) but also gently dislodge the lens.
  4. Gently massage your closed upper eyelid. You should be able to feel when your lens loosens and moves.
  5. Repeat as needed. It might take several tries before your contact lens loosens up. It’s important to stay patient and not attempt to remove your contact lens while it’s still stuck to your eye. Sometimes, it can take 10 to 15 minutes to dislodge a stuck contact lens.

Once you feel the lens loosen up and move, you can go ahead and safely remove your contact lens.

A Soft Contact Lens Is Stuck Off-Center

Animated illustration showing an eye looking in the opposite direction of a stuck contact lens

When your stuck contact lens is off-center, it’s understandably a bit more unsettling—you might feel the lens but not see it, and you likely have blurry vision in that eye. As frustrating as that may be, the key is to remain calm. 

As always, begin by thoroughly washing your hands. If your contact lens is stuck under an eyelid or has moved off-center to the corner of your eye, first try looking in the opposite direction of where it’s stuck. For instance, if the contact lens is stuck under your upper eyelid, look down. If it’s stuck to the left side of your eye, look to the right. This may help dislodge the lens.

If the lens doesn’t budge, follow the steps listed above for stuck contacts: Rinse your eye with saline solution, blink repeatedly, and gently massage your closed upper eyelid where the contact lens is. Repeat as needed until the contact lens loosens up and you can safely remove it.

A Torn Piece of a Soft Contact Lens Is Stuck in the Eye

It happens sometimes—a soft contact lens might rip or tear slightly when you remove or put in your contacts. And sometimes, a piece may remain in your eye when you remove the torn lens. 

If a torn piece of your contact lens is stuck in your eye, you’ll want to guide it to the outside corner of your eye. Again, always begin with thoroughly washed hands and lubricated eyes.

For larger pieces, slide the lens piece to the corner of your eye with your finger. Once it’s there, you can easily remove it. If you’re having difficulty moving the torn piece to the corner of your eye, try rinsing your eye with saline and blinking repeatedly, as outlined in the steps above. Sometimes, this will help the torn piece work its way to the corner of your eye. 

For smaller pieces, you can try flushing your eye with saline solution or sterile eye wash. You can read our guide on How to Get Something Out of Your Eye for more thorough details on eye irrigation.

Consider these additional tips if you’re dealing with a stuck piece (or pieces) of contact lens in your eye:

  • Don’t throw away the lens piece (or pieces) once removed. Instead, keep them aside to examine when you’re done to help you ensure you removed all pieces of the contact lens.
  • Don’t rub your eye or use tweezers or other tools to attempt to remove lens pieces.
  • If there’s any possibility that pieces of your lens may still be in your eye, see your eye doctor right away.

A Rigid Gas-Permeable Contact Lens Is Stuck

Although it’s more common for a soft contact lens to get stuck, it’s also possible for a rigid gas-permeable (RGP), or “hard,” contact lens to get stuck in your eye. Removing this calls for a slightly different approach.

In this case, you should not massage your closed eyelid. Because of the harder structure of the lens, rubbing or massaging could scratch your cornea. With clean hands, try using a fingertip to gently press just beside the edge of the lens to break the suction that’s causing the lens to stick.

Another option is to use the small suction cup that comes with your lenses (but don’t forget to read the instructions from your eye doctor on how to use it properly). If you don’t have one, you can get these suction cups from a pharmacy or business that sells contact lens accessories. 

When To See a Doctor

Remember that removing a stuck contact lens may take a little time and patience. But if you still can’t get your contact lens out or your eye feels irritated after removing your stuck contact lens, don’t wait to get your eyes checked. Book an appointment with your eye doctor to make sure there are no corneal abrasions or torn pieces left on your eye.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Take care of those eyes, and safeguard your vision!

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