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Simple solutions for the most common contact lens frustrations.
Contact lenses are like children: You love them, but they sure can be annoying sometimes.
Like when they get stuck under your eyelid, or pop out randomly and land on the floor. Then there are those mornings when they sting for no reason.
We asked Alicia Pecco, O.D., an optometrist at the America’s Best Contacts and Eyeglasses in Wyncote, Pa., for simple solutions to common contact quandaries.
“It’s all about getting comfortable with your contacts,” she says. “Ask lots of questions at the beginning—and if you’re ever stuck, your optometrist is always ready to help.”
Did you know that contact lens prescriptions need to be renewed every year? Click here to find an exam time that fits your schedule.
Oops #1: Your Contact Lens Disappeared Under Your Eyelid
“This often happens because your eye isn’t well lubricated,” explains Dr. Pecco. “So your first step is to add moisture.”
Start by simply blinking a few times—that usually does the trick. Or try closing your eyes and gently massaging (not rubbing!) your lids.
If it’s still stuck, she says, do a lid flip: Hold on to your lashes, pull your lid forward, and flip the lid backward.
“Look to see if the lens is, in fact, under your lid—you’d be surprised how many people think their lens is stuck when it actually just fell out. And then safely remove it,” she says.
Take care not to pull or drag the lens across your cornea (the clear part of your eye that covers the colored iris and the pupil). Doing so could scratch the cornea and turn this “oops” into a “you’ve gotta be kidding me!” moment.
Instead, moisten your fingertip with some of your lens solution or rewetting drops. Next, gently grasp the lens, coax it toward the white of your eye, and take it out using a gentle pinching motion.
And if that doesn’t work, she says, it’s time to call your eye doctor.
By the way, if this is happening often with a new prescription or a new set of lenses, that also means you should call your eye doctor. There’s a good chance you need better-fitting lenses.
Oops #2: Your Contact Lens Dropped on the Dirty Floor
Or sink, or table—there are germs lurking everywhere! The fear here is that all of those gross germs will make themselves at home on your lens and put you at risk of an eye infection like pink eye or an inflammation of the cornea called keratitis. (The lens could also scratch or tear.)
Your best bet: Toss the lens and start from scratch with a fresh new one.
But what if you’re not at home and don’t have a spare? Your first step is to get that lens as clean as possible before reinserting it.
“Never use saliva or tap water to clean your lens,” says Dr. Pecco, as that would only introduce more bacteria. “If you have some contact lens solution with you, squirt some on the lens and thoroughly clean it, then let it soak for a few minutes to overnight. The longer time soaking, the better.”
Finally, you’ve heard it before, but this advice bears repeating: Wherever you go, bring along spare lenses and some rewetting drops, if you have dailies. If you wear biweeklies or monthlies, tote a just-in-case kit that includes a travel-size bottle of your solution, spare lenses, and a case.
Most important, everyone who wears contact lenses needs a pair of backup glasses. You never know when you might need them.
For more tips on eye care essentials, read Gear That Will Make Your Vision Clear.
Oops #3: Your Contact Lens Stings or Is Clouded Over
The prime culprits for this annoyance are soapy residue on your fingers or a dirty lens. Luckily, the fix is easy: Reboot!
“First, clean and dry your hands thoroughly,” says Dr. Pecco, “and then take out the lens, squirt it with some solution, and rinse. Wait a few seconds and reinsert.”
Second time, hopefully, is the charm.
Oops #4: Your Contact Lens Just Isn’t Cooperating
There are a few possible reasons for this frustration:
Your fingers may be too wet. If that’s the case, dry them with a clean towel, advises Dr. Pecco.
The lens is too dry. Take a look at the lens, and if it seems a bit dry, add a drop of solution.
The lens is inside out. “Examine the lens carefully,” says Dr. Pecco. “It should be bowl-shaped. But if the edges are flared out, that’s a sign that your lens is inside out.” To fix it, manipulate the lens with your clean fingers and reinsert.
Want more pro tips for mastering the art of handling stubborn contacts, including the genius “taco test” to help you identify an inside-out lens? Check out this video:
Oops # 5: Your Contact Lens Got Too Chummy with Your Mascara
Needless to say, mascara and contacts are a bad mix. But, hey, it happens—usually during the mad dash to get your makeup on before you’re late for work or class.
If some mascara does get in there: “Remove the lens immediately,” says Dr. Pecco, “and inspect it carefully. Make sure you’ve just brushed it, and that it isn’t ripped.”
Next, use a squirt of solution to rinse away the mascara. Place the lens in the palm of your hand and gently rub it in the solution for a few moments. Finally, reinsert the lens—and you’re good to go.
Recommended reading: America’s Best Guide to Contact Lenses