Contact lenses are a convenient and comfortable alternative to wearing glasses. However, failure to safely insert and remove contact lenses can lead to eye infections and other problems.
You're not alone if you’re unsure of the right way to put in and take out your contact lenses. Surveys show that about 30% of contact lens wearers consider themselves under-informed on proper care and handling of contact lenses.1
This article explains the easiest way to put in and remove contact lenses and tips for safe handling and storage.
How to Put in Contact Lenses (Step-by-Step Instructions)
Many people find it nerve-wracking to put in contacts, but there's no need to be nervous. Although there’s a bit of a learning curve, inserting contact lenses is easy. After a couple of attempts, it will feel like second nature.
Here are 6 steps to make sure you put your contacts in safely:
1. Wash Your Hands
Wash your hands thoroughly with fragrance-free soap and dry them with a clean, lint-free towel. Ensuring you have clean hands before touching your eyes will reduce the risk of an eye infection.
2. Clean the Lens With Contact Lens Solution
Open your contact lens case. Using your fingertip, put the first contact lens in the palm of your non-dominant hand. Always start with the same eye first to avoid mixing up your lenses.
Discard the contact lens solution from the case. Add enough fresh solution to the lens in your palm to cover it. Never use tap water, saliva, or anything other than contact lens solution.
Gently rub the lens with your index or middle finger. After 10 to 15 seconds, rinse the lens with another squirt of fresh solution.
3. Hold the Contact Lens on Your Index Finger
Gently place the contact lens on the index finger of your dominant hand.
Ensure the lens isn’t damaged and that you have the correct side facing up. The edges should be turned up, like a bowl. If it’s inside out, just flip it to the correct position.
4. Hold Your Eyelids Open
Looking in the mirror, hold your upper and lower eyelids open with the hand not holding the lens. Some people may find it more comfortable to only hold the upper eyelid open.
Be gentle with your eyelids. Don’t tug on the delicate skin.
5. Place the Lens In Your Eye
Slowly bring the contact toward your eye with the lens carefully positioned on the edge of your index finger. It should only take a light touch for the lens to cling to the moisture of your eye.
6. Ensure the Lens Is Comfortable
Slowly close and roll your eye around or softly press on your upper eyelid to ensure the lens is in place. Your vision should clear after blinking a few times.
If it’s uncomfortable, gently remove the lens, rinse it with solution, and start again. Repeat each step with the second lens.
How to Take Out Contacts Safely (Step-by-Step Instructions)
Here are 7 steps to make sure you get your contact lenses out safely:
- Wash your hands thoroughly and dry them with a lint-free cloth.
- Using the middle finger of your dominant hand, gently pull down your lower eyelid on one eye and look up.
- Using the index finger of the same hand, gently slide the contact lens down to the white part of your eye.
- Once you’ve slid it down, gently pinch the contact lens with your thumb and index finger. Pull it away from your eye.
- Once removed, put the lens in the palm of your hand. Wet it with contact lens solution and rub it for 30 seconds to remove mucus, dirt, and oil.
- After cleaning, place it in your contact lens case and cover it completely with fresh contact solution.
- Repeat each step with your other eye.
How to Put in Contacts for the First Time
Most people are nervous about putting contact lenses in their eyes for the first time. It's best to practice putting in contact lenses at your eye doctor's office.
Here are a few tips:
Start With an Eye Exam
Even if you’ve worn glasses for many years, you’ll need an exam and a new prescription for contact lenses. Eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions are not the same.
Your eye doctor will conduct a completely different test for your eyes if you want to wear contact lenses. Many will also provide a free trial pair for you to try.
Once you have your prescription for contact lenses, you can purchase them online. For many, buying contact lenses online is cheaper than ordering them from your doctor.
Practice Inserting and Removing Contact Lenses
After you get your contact lenses, practice putting them in so you can get comfortable with the process.
Many people have trouble putting contact lenses in for the first time. But you’ll quickly become a contact lens expert.
Be Patient During the Adjustment Period
If contacts aren’t perfectly comfortable when you first put them in, don’t panic. If your eyes feel irritated after wearing contact lenses for a short time, you should speak to your doctor.
Remember, after several hours of wearing contacts, most people’s eyes feel irritated. Even extended-wear contacts can become uncomfortable after long periods of wear.
If you’ve had contacts in your eyes all day and your eyes feel tired or irritated, remove them. Wear your back-up glasses until your eyes feel better.
Can You Wear a Contact Lens Incorrectly?
Yes, even experienced contact lens wearers can put their contacts incorrectly. It’s possible that someone who has put their contact lens on inside out won’t notice for a while.
Signs your contact lens is in incorrectly include:
- Sensation of the contact moving in your eye
- Eyes watering
- Contact pops out easily
If you remove your contact lens because it’s inside out, rinse it in a disinfecting solution before putting it back in. The contact lens can become contaminated with harmful bacteria when you touch it.
What Happens if You Insert a Contact Inside Out?
No permanent damage occurs if you put your contact inside out. You simply need to remove it and put it in the right way.
What’s challenging about putting your lens in wrong is figuring out what’s happening. Contact lenses are thin and flexible, so they can easily turn inside out.
Some people don’t even realize they’re inside out. Most people feel uncomfortable or as if their contact is moving if it’s inside out. It’ll still fit in your eye, and you’ll be able to see, but it won’t fit as well.
Is There a Wrong Way to Remove Contacts?
There are mistakes you can make that put your eye health at risk. Here are things to avoid:
Don’t Handle Contact Lenses With Unclean Hands
Removing contacts without washing your hands can introduce debris or bacteria to your eye. This can lead to eye infections that may threaten your vision.
Don’t Touch Your Eye With the Tip of Your Finger
You also need to be careful with finger placement when removing the lens. If you use the tip instead of the flat part of the end of your finger, you can scratch your eye.
Don’t Force a Contact Lens Out of Your Eye
It’s also important to use caution when removing a contact stuck in your eye. There’s potential to damage your cornea if you force a stuck contact lens out of your eye.
You should only ever use very gentle pressure when removing a lens. If you can't remove your contact lens with gentle pressure, call your eye doctor for help.
Tips for Dealing With New Contact Lenses
If you’re about to begin wearing new contact lenses, the following tips can help:
- Relax. You have nothing to worry about. Be patient and gentle, and don’t panic.
- Keep your lenses clean. When in doubt, rinse with a contact solution. It’s better to over-rinse than to skip rinsing.
- Replace lenses when needed. This includes when they’re scratched, old, or expired.
- Follow any recommendations you’ve received from your eye doctor. Never substitute lenses or lens care products without first speaking to your doctor.
- Follow recommendations regarding wear time. Don’t try to wear your contacts longer than recommended. This can lead to eye irritation.
What to Do if Your Contacts are Uncomfortable/Don’t Fit
Sometimes lenses don’t fit or feel uncomfortable. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Usually, your eyes feel dry and/or gritty.
If this occurs, there are a few things to remember:
- Don’t rub your eyes; this can damage your lenses or eyes.
- Wash and dry your hands before touching the contact to correct the problem.
- Inspect your lenses carefully before putting them in each time. When something feels uncomfortable, gently remove it immediately.
- If there’s no damage, rinse the lens in solution before putting it back into your eye.
- If it’s still uncomfortable or you experience problems frequently, stop using contacts and contact your doctor.
What to Do if You Get a Contact Lens Stuck In Your Eye
Getting a contact stuck in your eye is frightening, but don't panic. The contact lens will not get stuck behind your eye, but it might require a trip to the doctor to get it out.
Don't get aggressive when you take out your contacts. Add a drop or two of contact lens rewetting drops and wait a minute to see if the lens loosens. Make sure you blink a lot when trying to remove it. If it’s still stuck after several tries, contact your doctor.
Never forcefully try to remove a contact lens from your eye. You’re always better off seeing your doctor for help with removal if you are concerned about damaging the lens or hurting your eye.
When to Call a Doctor
Call your eye doctor if your contact lenses cause pain or if you have symptoms of an eye infection.
Signs and symptoms of an eye infection include:
- Redness and swelling
- Blurry vision
- Eye pain
- Excessive tearing
- Light sensitivity
- Eye discharge
- Feeling like there’s something in your eye
Learning to put in contact lenses can take some time, but a bit of practice will make it feel like second nature. Safe handling and storage of contact lenses will reduce the risk of eye infections and protect your vision. Call your eye doctor at the earliest sign of an infection.
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Best Places to Buy Contacts
1-800 Contacts is our #1 recommendation to buy contacts online.
GlassesUSA has a huge selection of contacts, glasses, & sunglasses.
Best Places to Buy Glasses
Warby Parker has stylish, high-quality frames at affordable prices.
Liingo Eyewear is another great option to buy glasses online.
Best on a Budget
EyeBuyDirect has a wide variety of budget frames starting at $6.