Can Contacts Get Lost in Your Eye?

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.

 

Contact Lenses Getting “Lost” in the Eye

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.

 

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What Should I Do if My Contact Lens Gets Lost in My Eye?

Soft Contact Lenses

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.

Gas Permeable Lenses

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.

How Can I Avoid Contact Lenses Getting Lost in My Eye?

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. 

Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes

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.

Do Not Sleep in Your Contact Lenses

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.

How Can I Avoid Contact Lenses Getting Lost in My Eye?
Understand Your Lenses

Understand Your Lenses

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.

 

Common Questions

First try not to panic! Some people may fear the contact lens may be trapped and go behind the eye into their brain, but don’t worry that’s impossible! If your contact lens is in the center of the eye and it’s just not coming off, then most likely the cause of your contacts getting stuck (if it’s a soft lens) is because the lens probably dried out. To help resolve this you can rinse your eye with a steady stream of sterile saline solution or use artificial tears, then close your eyes and gently massage your eyelids until you feel the lens move, then blink a couple of times and once the lens moves more freely then try again to remove your lens like you normally would. In the event your contact lens is dislodged from the center of your eye, then try to look in the opposite direction of where your lens would be. Again you can rinse your eye with sterile saline solution and gently massage your eyelids and blink to allow the lens to re-center and then remove like you normally would. In the event that you can’t get your contacts out, be sure to go to your eye doctor so they can help you remove it.
If you wear contacts longer than recommended then this places you at a greater risk for developing contact lens associated eye infections and complications which can lead to permanent vision loss. It can result in scratches on your cornea, corneal ulcers, new blood vessels to grow on your eye, and make your eyes feel irritated, uncomfortable and painful. Different types of contacts lenses have different disposal schedules, for instance if you have dailies you must throw them away after a single use whereas if you have monthly lenses you must not wear them longer than 30 days. Contact lenses are a medical device so it’s very important to maintain proper contact lens hygiene, don’t overwear your lenses, and listen to your eye doctor’s wear schedule guidelines.
Depends on the type of contact lens you’re wearing. If you’re wearing a hard Ortho-K specialty lens, then this lens is actually designed to be worn when you sleep. Additionally, if you specifically have an extended wear lens, then these lenses can also be worn while you sleep. However, in most cases contacts CANNOT be worn while you sleep, this is because it can cause various contact lens associated conditions. For instance, it can cause your eyes to dry out, as well as cause new blood vessels to start growing on your eyes because they are deprived of oxygen, resulting in irritation, discomfort and blurry vision. Be sure to talk to your eye doctor about proper contact lens hygiene.
You can apply artificial tears to help alleviate discomfort. Also, if you feel like your lenses aren’t comfortable at the end of the day you can try to reduce the number of hours you wear your lenses, or talk to your eye doctor to possibly switch you into a different contact lens brand that allows for more oxygen permeability. Also, if you feel like your eyes are dry talk to your eye doctor to see what is the best dry eye treatment for you.
You may have dry eyes which may cause your eyes to feel irritated when you wear your contacts. It’s important to treat the underlying cause of dry eyes to help relieve your symptoms. You may also be abusing your contact lenses, meaning you wear them longer than the contact lens wear schedule or you sleep in your lenses, and this improper contact lens hygiene may be the cause. Additionally, you may be wearing contacts that don’t have a high oxygen permeability so your eye doctor may need to switch you out into a different brand and/or a different contact lens modality. It’s important to have a proper contact lens evaluation by your eye doctor to determine the cause of your irritated eyes and then determine the best course of treatment for you.
NO! This can cause a lot of contact lens associated infections and problems such as eye infections, irritation and can even lead to permanent vision loss. It’s important to not expose the contacts to any type of water, including swimming pools, lakes, oceans, or tap water from showering. There can be various bugs, bacteria, microbes and viruses found in the water and if they are exposed to your contact lens they can latch onto the contact and cause an eye infection, inflammation, irritation, potential vision loss, and possibly require for you to get a corneal transplant. It’s important to remove your contacts before entering any bodies of water. Wear prescription swimming goggles instead.
This may mean that you’re approaching presbyopia where now you also need a reading prescription to see material clearly up close. There are several different options to help correct this. You may switch in a multifocal contact lens, which is a contact lens that has two different powers within one lens to allow you to see both at distance and near. You may also try out a monovision modality where one eye is corrected for distance and the other eye is corrected for near. You may also keep your regular contacts for distance and just wear reading glasses over your contact when you need to read things up close. Talk to your eye doctor to see which modality is best for you.
Dr. Wernick cartoon

Summary

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.

 

Testimonials


At Amplify with Dr Wernick I was seeking help for seemingly intractable, probably age-related dryness. I've seen other doctors about it, and that has been helpful, but what he explained to me about it and the careful way he answered all my questions gave me so much more of a clear understanding of what is going on (and is not) that I am more able to implement all his and others' recommendations than I was before. And he gave me additional resources for further follow-up. I am most grateful.


Cynthia Norton

Wow! This is a great Eye Care medical facility. I was thoroughly examined by Dr. Pinkhasov for over 2 hours. She made sure to check my eyes for pretty much everything and patiently explained proper care for my eyes. They definitely know how to provide great care and treat their patients right. Now I know why they have such a great reputation and been around for so long.


Steve Fay

Dr. Kavner is a gifted diagnostician and orthoptic therapist. He treated me several decades ago for a condition similar to dyslexia. I was having migraines five times per week. I worked with him for about a year and I experienced tremendous improvement (down to 3-4 per year) that has lasted.


Mary K.

Dr. Kavner recommended two types of eye therapy for my daughter. One of them using bio-feedback. In just three sessions she is seeing considerably better. She shouted this morning: Ooh my God! I could not see these letters with my glasses on, and now I can see them without my glasses. If you are willing and able to invest in improving your vision, this is a good place to go to!


Peter G.

Dr. Kavner recommended two types of eye therapy for my daughter. One of them using bio-feedback. In just three sessions she is seeing considerably better. She shouted this morning: Ooh my God! I could not see these letters with my glasses on, and now I can see them without my glasses. If you are willing and able to invest in improving your vision, this is a good place to go to!


Kinkie F.

I have always found Dr Kavner's work, expertise and wisdom of the highest caliber. As one of the fathers of OT, occupational othomology, his depth and breadth of knowledge about the eyes' health and wellbeing of the patient is exemplary. Cannot say enough good things about him.


Allen B.
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