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How to Take Out Contacts Safely (Step by Step)

People who wear contacts can potentially damage their eyes if they take out contacts incorrectly. Always be gentle with your eye area and make sure to remove contacts properly to ensure overall eye health.

Also, make sure to follow the instructions from the lens’ manufacturer or your eye doctor regarding proper care and storage of your contacts.

How to Safely Remove Contacts

While it can feel awkward to remove contacts from your eyes for the first time, it will quickly become second nature. Here are the steps to follow:

1. First, wash your hands with soap and warm water, and dry them with a clean, lint-free towel.

2. Look up and softly pull the lower eyelid down with the middle finger of your primary hand.

3. Move the lower margin of the contact toward the lower part of your eye with the index finger of the primary hand.

4. Now, pinch the lens softly between the thumb and index finger to take out the contact.

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Other Methods to Remove Contacts

While the method described above is the primary way to remove contacts from the eyes, there are other methods some people recommend. Here are some of them:

The Blink Method

This method sometimes works well to remove hard contact lenses.

1. Look directly ahead. 

2. Pull the skin on the eyelid’s outer corner gently with your middle finger.

3. Repeatedly blink your eye until the contact is released.

4. Catch the lens with your hand or a towel. If you’re taking out your contact over a sink, make sure you’ve covered the drain.

The Two-Finger Method

With this method, you’ll use two fingers instead of one. 

1. Softly lift your upper eyelid toward the brow with the middle finger of your primary hand. This is done to keep the lashes out of the way.

2. Pull the lower lid down with the middle finger of your dominant hand.

3. Softly push the eyelid from the outer corner and toward the nose to release the contact.

What to Do if a Contact Lens Gets Stuck

If your lens becomes stuck in your eye, it’s likely because your eye is dry. Aim to rehydrate the eye and lens, so it’s easier to remove the contact. 

Use a steady stream of rewetting drops or a sterile saline solution to irrigate the eye and remove the lens. Do this for several seconds. 

If this doesn’t work, irrigate the eye and then close it. Softly massage the upper eyelid until you feel the lens move. If it still remains stuck, repeat the process. 

If the lens is still stuck, see an eye doctor. 

Caring for Your Contacts

Take good care of your contacts and eyes to ensure your eye health. Follow these tips:

  • See an eye doctor regularly to ensure your eyes are healthy and safe for contacts.
  • Follow accepted guidelines for cleaning and storing your contacts.
  • Always disinfect contacts after removal and before you reinsert them into your eyes.
  • Always remove daily wear contact lenses before you go to sleep at night.
  • Never swim with contacts in.

Complications From Incorrect Contact Lens Removal

It’s important to take out your contact lenses properly. Otherwise, complications may result that can lead to corneal abrasion, corneal ulcer, infection, or conditions like giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC) or a corneal ulcer.

Corneal Abrasion

A corneal abrasion is a scratch that can result from incorrect removal of a contact or from a poorly fitted contact. Foreign material beneath the lens may also lead to corneal damage. If this happens, your eye doctor may have to treat the condition with antibiotics to prevent infection.

Usually, the problem clears up within about 24 to 72 hours, provided you don’t rub your eyes. During the healing process, make sure to protect your eyes from the sun.

Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis 

Giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC) may result from poor removal practices. Symptoms of this condition are eyelid redness, itching, or swelling. 

GPC may also occur if you experience intolerance to your lens. This condition happens most frequently to people who wear soft contacts.

Corneal Ulcer

A corneal ulcer is a severe complication that can occur due to improper lens removal. Trauma or contamination of the cornea may lead to an infection. Some cases can cause corneal scarring and may even necessitate a corneal transplant.

Acanthamoeba Keratitis

Acanthamoeba keratitis is a rare infection that is often related to contact lens wear. This complication may happen if the contact lenses are placed in homemade cleaning solution, or the cornea is damaged due to trauma. This infection may also trigger a corneal ulcer.

Prevention

If you follow the steps for safe removal of contact lenses, it’s unlikely that you’ll experience any issues. If you accidentally injure your eye while removing your contacts, or any other time, contact an eye doctor. They’ll need to examine your eye to determine the extent of the damage, and they can prescribe appropriate treatment for your situation.

References

  1. Types of Contact Lenses. U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

  2. Contact Lens Types. (January 2022). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  3. Update on Scleral Lenses. (November 2018). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  4. How to Take Care of Contact Lenses. (April 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  5. Management of Corneal Abrasions. (July 2004). American Family Physician.

  6. What Is Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis? (April 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  7. Acanthamoeba Keratitis FAQs. (November 2010). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  8. Personal Hygiene Risk Factors for Contact Lens-Related Microbial Keratitis. (September 2020). BMJ Open Ophthalmology.

  9. Contact Lens Care Tips for Patients: An Optometrist’s Perspective. (August 2017). Clinical Optometry.

  10. A Review of Contact Lens-Related Risk Factors and Complications. (October 2022). Cureus.

Last Updated March 15, 2023

Note: This page should not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice from a doctor or specialist. Please review our about page for more information.

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