A common anxiety surrounding contact lenses is the possibility of getting them  “lost in your eye.” It is possible for your contact to dislodge and, if left unattended, cause damage. This is a situation that would frighten anyone, but don’t panic. The good news is that contact lenses cannot get lost permanently behind your eyes, so you don’t need to worry.

However, if you are not proactive about taking care of your contacts or are prone to sleeping with them, you may be at a higher risk of them getting stuck. It’s important to know the proper way to remove your contacts to avoid damaging the lens or your eye. If removed or cleaned improperly, they can lead to painful infections—needing attention from a doctor or potentially surgery.

Just because you have a lost contact lens in your eye doesn’t mean you’re in danger. You just need to know how to find your contact and remove it safely before any potential damage occurs. 

Here’s everything you should know about removing a lost contact in your eye.

How Do Contacts Get Stuck?

Contacts can become dislodged in your eye if you leave them in overnight or they dry out during the day. Sometimes you may forget to remove them after a long day or think that it’s worth the risk for a few extra minutes of sleep. However, the struggle of prying sticky contacts from your eyes the next morning is not a risk you want to take.

During the day, your lenses get a reduced supply of oxygen as proteins build up on them. This causes the surface of the lens to dry out, which makes it more difficult to remove later. The drier the lens, the more it will stick to your eye, which can cause damage if you aren’t careful.

Leaving your contacts in overnight has a similar effect, but more of a chance for the contact to move while you sleep. Redness and irritation are common, as well as potential harm to your cornea. Your eyes need a chance to breathe after wearing contacts all day, and keeping your contacts in without cleaning can cause harmful bacteria to grow. To avoid the risk of painful infection, it’s important to keep your contacts hydrated and not to wear them past the recommended time. 

How Can I Reduce The Risk?

Listen when your doctor says not to leave your contacts in for too long. Depending on the brand, you should be able to safely wear your contacts anywhere between 8 to 12 hours without a hassle. However, keep a backup pair of glasses with you, if you can, so that you can remove your lenses if you need to.

If you’re prone to dry eyes, consult your eye doctor. They may prescribe drops that will help moisturize your eyes throughout the day, keeping them refreshed and minimizing the risk of dryness.

What if I Lose My Contact in My Eye?

If you discover you’ve lost a contact in your eye, stay calm. First, assess the state of your eyes. You may have blurred vision in that eye, as well as some discomfort. 

Before you attempt to remove the lens, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water. This will reduce the risk of bacteria getting in your eyes. Add a few eye drops or artificial tears to help lubricate the surface of your eye. If you can feel the contact under your eyelid, gently close and massage your eye to move the contact into a retrievable position.

If you can remove the lens and the redness and irritation dissipate, you are likely okay and do not need to consult your doctor. Redness and pain should subside, but call your doctor if this continues for hours after the lens is removed without any improvement. Keep the contaminated lens in a safe container and take it with you so your doctor can create an accurate treatment plan for you.

If you can’t find the lens in your eye, it may be hiding under your eyelid. You will need to check by flipping your eyelid inside out carefully and examining it for the lost contact in your eye. If you find it attached to the underside of the lid, you may be able to remove it from there easily. If not, contact your eye doctor.

What If I Can’t Get My Contact Out?

Do not under any circumstances put another contact in while you struggle to find the lost contact in your eye. This will only worsen the problem as the contacts can bunch together or scratch your cornea. 

If you discover that your contact is stuck or difficult to remove on your own, stop. Do not try to remove it. Your eyes are very sensitive, and pulling or tugging on a contact lens to pry it off may seriously damage your cornea.

Try to rehydrate your eye with drops or contact solution to see if that will loosen the lens. If it does, and you can safely remove it, give your eyes a break for the day. If not, contact your eye doctor immediately. They may recommend a visit to the emergency room if the situation is severe enough.

Schedule an Appointment

While under normal circumstances, they cannot get lost in your eyes, there are incidents where contacts left in overnight or dried out during the day can become an issue. These incidents can result in minor irritation for a few hours or cause permanent damage to your eye.
The best way to avoid having problems with your contacts is to get properly fitted ones for your eye shape. Don’t wait to schedule an appointment today to get properly fitted lenses. A good fit ensures a lesser risk of waking up to discover a lost contact in your eye, which means less stress for you to deal with. Your optician will discuss which options will work best for you in the long run and help you decide how to proceed with your eye care.