Most contacts-wearers have experienced the nightmare of having a lens that they know they put in their eye and that they now can't find, let alone remove. There are several different reasons why this can happen, and it's mostly common with people who are just starting out with their lenses.
Since the process of putting small lenses onto your eyes and taking them off isn't exactly a natural process, it's perfectly normal that beginners struggle with it during their first few times donning their contacts.
Other times, the situation can be direr, involving a dried-out contact that seems to have fused to your cornea, or even a lense that seems to have hidden somewhere behind your eyeball.
This last example may be a virtual impossibility but is something countless contacts-wearers swear they've experienced. While this might only be an occasional occurrence for most - as it should be, if you're following proper lens-wearing protocol - it's still an unpleasant and sometimes even painful experience no matter how infrequent it might be.
Luckily, there are some tried and tested techniques for how to get contacts out that have been proven to work no matter which type of lens issue you're having.
Why is My Contact Lens Stuck in My Eye?
As mentioned earlier, contacts can become stubbornly attached to your eye for a number of different reasons, and assessing the cause of the situation is key to determining how to take contacts out.
For example, if you're simply new to wearing contacts and have difficulty finding the right technique, the best thing you can do is just be patient and practice a gentle pinching motion, allowing your eyes to rest if necessary. You can scratch or irritate your eyes if you're not careful, so there's no harm in taking your time with learning. The good news is, figuring out how to take contacts out becomes easier the more you do it.
On the other hand, a contact stuck in the eye might also be the result of poor care, maintenance, and wearing habits. One major culprit is falling asleep in your lenses, which can happen from time to time even with the most diligent lens-wearer. Dozing off after a busy morning and afternoon might seem innocent enough, until you wake to find your contacts unbearably scratchy, uncomfortable, and apparently impossible to remove.
Still, you might have a lens that's dried out unnaturally fast due to an arid climate or allergic reaction. Those who suffer from seasonal allergies might experience a stuck lens if eye dryness is one of their allergy symptoms. If you know you're going to be around dust or other known allergens, it's a good idea to take extra precautions like having contact lens solution or allergy eyedrops handy when you need them.
In other cases, a lens can just get dried out from having a long, full day. If you stare at screens often, be it for work or pleasure, chances are you're not blinking as much as you otherwise would be.
The less you blink, the less your eyes can keep themselves hydrated, and the more likely you are to end up with a contact that's affixed itself to your cornea by the end of the day. It's all the more important for these busy contacts-wearers to rest their eyes from time to time, possibly even picking a designated time to remove their lenses partway through the day.
What Happens If Contacts Get Stuck in the Eye?
Those who make a habit of sleeping the night through with contacts in their eyes are not only risking damage to their corneas and eyelids when they go into REM sleep, during which time the eyes dart from side to side, scraping the dried out lenses along with the eyes and eyelid interior.
These contacts-sleepers are also risking countless types of infections like pink eye, which readily breed in such dried-out conditions.
Contact Stuck in Eye Can't Find
One of the scariest things about having a contact lens stuck in your eye that you're unable to find is the idea that it's somehow lodged itself all the way back behind your eye. Something that should come as a relief to anyone who's ever experienced this fear is that this is a physical impossibility.
Thanks to the ingenious layout of the human body, the eyelids have a connective part known as the conjunctiva. Its purpose is to prevent the very thing we're discussing here.
Thanks to this barrier, dust, debris - and yes, contacts - cannot become wedged in the back of the eyeball. So while it may feel and look like the lens is out of reach and possibly stuck forever, it can be a comfort to know that they're really just either above, below, or off to the side.
If you're experiencing this kind of contact lens situation, it's likely because you've been rubbing your eye. This might in itself be due to dryness and irritation, and is another good reason to take your contacts out regularly and keep both your lenses and your body fully hydrated.
Again, this is something to keep in mind particularly for beginner lens-wearers because it's very easy to absent-mindedly rub your eyes the way you used to before you wore contacts. Performing this casual action that carried no consequence without contacts in your eye can have dire consequences once they're in.
How to Remove a Stuck Contact Lens
The most important thing to remember if your contact gets stuck is not to panic. Even if you can't get the contact out, the situation is really not all that bad - but can be made much worse if you panic.
Ripping the lens from your eye abruptly can cause more damage than has already been done and is never a good idea. So whenever you experience any form of suck lenses, the first step is to take a few deep breaths and calm yourself down.
If the lens is stuck mainly or entirely due to dryness, you should immediately drink a tall glass of water. Rehydrating the body will have a big impact on the moisture content in your eyes, and that will work to your advantage in breaking the seal that's formed between the lenses and your eye.
If that doesn't work after a few minutes, you can use an approved contact lens solution to help moisturize the contacts directly.
What if the Lens Gets Stuck Somewhere Else?
When your contacts haven't been stuck directly over your pupil and iris but instead have moved out of sight somewhere behind the eyelids, it takes some gentle and careful maneuvering to get them to where you can take them out again.
By placing your finger on your eyelid where you think the contacts are and moving your eyes around, you can shift the contacts until they come into view. It's important to hold your eyes steady and not apply too much pressure; otherwise, you can seriously hurt your eyes.
Emergency Tips for Broken and Stuck Contact Lenses
The first rule to observe when it comes to broken lenses is to never put them in your eye to begin with. Even the most minor scratch can and will have detrimental effects on your eyes, and they certainly won't be comfortable. When in doubt, throw the old lenses out and start fresh with a new pair.
In the event that you suspect your lens has broken while in your eye, the only thing you can do is follow the above removal instructions as carefully and calmly as possible. It's all the more important to carry out each step as gently as possible or you will risk irritating your eye's surface.
As long as you're careful and kind to your eyes, you should be able to remove the damaged contacts without inflicting any damage, and immediately throw them away. If you do irritate or hurt your eye in any way, it's a good idea to give them some time to recover before wearing contacts again.