Perhaps the biggest single fear many people have when it comes to contact lenses is that they might get “lost” in the eye. While it is fortunately impossible for a contact lens to actually get stuck behind the eye, a contact lens can get uncomfortably moved out of position.
The good news to understand up front is that a contact lens cannot actually get “lost” in the eye and trapped behind it.
Because of this, while people might still use the term “lost” when referring to a contact lens that has gotten moved out of position, it does not mean there is a concern it went behind the eye.
The first thing to do if your contact gets dislodged while in your eye is to remember not to panic. Remember, it cannot actually go behind your eye, and it is highly unlikely to cause any damage to your eye. If you panic and try to pry it out too quickly, however, you might cause additional discomfort in the process.
In many cases, a contact lens will become “lost” in the eye after you bump or rub your eye while you are wearing the lens, and the lens becomes folded and stuck under the upper eyelid.
In these cases,you can try adding some contact lens rewetting drops to your eye, then gently massage the eyelid with the eye closed. Most of the time, this will help move the folded lens to a position where you can easily locate and remove it. Once the lens is removed, you can then soak it in solution and rub it gently for a few seconds. This usually returns the lens to its original shape.
If this doesn’t work, you can try gently turning your upper eyelid inside out. (This might sound scary and gross, but it really isn’t.) A good way to do this is to place a Q-Tip horizontally just over the outside of your eyelid, then, while looking down, grab the eyelashes and gently and quickly flip the eyelid inside out by folding it over the Q-Tip.
Once you do this, keep looking down with your head tilted back as you use your other eye to find the offending contact lens. Use the eyelid to gently move the contact to the front of there eye, where you can remove it.
If this, too, doesn’t work, ask someone to help or contact an eye doctor as quickly as possible. But remember not to panic. The contact lens cannot get stuck behind your eye or otherwise get lost forever.
If you are wearing hard contact lenses or gas permeable lenses and they get stuck in your eye do not massage your eyelid. This may cause abrasion to the eye. Instead of that, you should use eye drops to lubricate the eye, and then gently try to remove the lens. If this doesn’t work, contact your eye doctor immediately for additional assistance.
Of course, the best way to deal with contact lenses getting lost in your eyes is for it not to happen at all. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to prevent this from happening in the first place.
Rubbing the eyes is the most likely thing to lead to a lost contact lens, and it can easily dislodge the lens from its place atop the cornea and can also lead to it getting folded under the upper eyelid. Additionally, and potentially of greater concern, rubbing your eyes may lead to the transfer of bacteria around the eyes, which has the potential to lead to an infection.
Unless they are meant to be slept in (such as extended wear contact lenses or ortho-k lenses), you should never sleep with your contact lenses in. This can limit oxygen flow to the cornea, causing dry eye, and may lead to infection.
Additionally, there is a chance that the lens may bond to the cornea while you sleep, which will make it hard to remove, and it is also entirely possible that you rubbed or otherwise moved your eyes while you slept, leading to the lens getting folded and stuck.
If you did sleep in your lenses and find that the lens has bonded to the cornea, you should wait at least an hour before you try to remove the lens. This should make it easier to remove. Once you remove the lens, you should wait a few hours before putting new contacts in, to give the eye some time to breathe and re-moisturize.
It’s important to understand your contact lenses, and what you should and shouldn’t do while applying them and while they are in your eyes. Even if you are used to wearing contact lenses, it is important to speak with your eye doctor and follow the doctor and product’s instructions if you switch lens care regimes or lens types.
While, fortunately, contact lenses cannot actually get lost in your eye or go behind it, they can still become dislodged or otherwise become difficult to remove from your eye. In most cases, the lenses should not be too difficult to remove, but if the basic techniques for removing dislodged or stuck contacts do not work, contact your eye doctor immediately. If you have additional questions, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, you can contact Amplify EyeCare Manhattan at 212-752-6930.
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