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Expert Q&A

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How can I safely remove a stuck contact lens?

Asked by Michelle, Chesapeake, Virginia

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I just got a new brand of soft contact lenses today and can't get one of them out. What should I do?

Expert Bio Picture

Living Well Expert Dr. Jennifer Shu Pediatrician,
Children's Medical Group

Expert answer

Thanks for your question, and sorry to hear of your troubles. While many people who wear contacts never experience any difficulty with their use, as an occasional contact-lens wearer myself, I've had the same problem nearly every time I've switched brands. First, you can rest assured that all the sides of your eyes are "dead ends" and there is no way the contact lens can be lost behind the eye. Second, if you've made a few attempts and your eye doctor's office is open, it's a good idea to call right away for advice. She may want to check your eyes and remove the lens for you (and possibly suggest a different type of contacts). If it's after hours, the on-call physician may suggest you go to the emergency room for an evaluation and removal, especially if you've tried to remove the contact several times or are experiencing eye pain or redness.

If you've tried to remove the lens only once or twice and your eye is not irritated, it may be helpful to put rewetting drops in the eye and wait several minutes before trying to remove the lens again. Having relatively dry eyes can make contact lens removal difficult, so try to keep your eyes lubricated, especially around the time you plan to take the lenses out.

The traditional technique of taking out contacts involves moving the lens to the outer, lower corner of the eye and then using the thumb and forefinger to pinch it out. Another method is to put one finger on your upper eyelid in the spot where you feel the top of the lens and the thumb on the lower eyelid over the bottom corner of the lens. Apply gentle pressure to the lids while trying to blink the contact out onto a clean towel. Finally, you may also wish to try a small rubber tool designed specifically to remove (or insert) soft contact lenses.

Good luck!

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