How to Put in and Take Out Contacts

6 sources cited
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How to Put in Contacts Safely (Step-by-Step Instructions)

Many people find putting in contacts to be nerve-wracking. But there's no need to be nervous. Putting in your contacts is easy. After a couple of attempts, it will feel like second nature.

Here are 9 steps to make sure you put your contacts in safely:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly and dry them with a clean, lint-free towel.
  2. Open your contact lens case. Using your fingertip, put the first contact lens in your non-dominant hand. Always start with the same eye first to avoid mixing up your lenses.
  3. Rinse the lens with your contact lens solution. Never use water.
  4. Gently place the lens on the tip of your index or middle finger of your dominant hand.
  5. Make sure the lens isn’t damaged and that you have the correct side facing up. The edges should turned up, like a bowl. Flip it over if it’s inside out.
  6. Looking in the mirror, hold your upper and lower eyelids open with the hand not holding the lens.
  7. Stare straight ahead or upwards, gently place the lens in your eye.
  8. Slowly close your eye slowly and roll your eye around or softly press on your eyelid to make sure the lens is in place. Your vision should clear after blinking a few times. If it’s uncomfortable, gently take the lens out, rinse it with solution, and start again.
  9. Repeat each step with the second lens.

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How to Take Out Contacts Safely (Step-by-Step Instructions)

Here are 7 steps to make sure you get your contacts out safely:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly and dry them with a lint free cloth.
  2. Using the middle finger of your dominant hand, gently pull down your lower eyelid on one eye and look up.
  3. Using the index finger of the same hand, gently slide the lens down to the white part of your eye.
  4. Once you’ve slid it down, gently pinch the lens with your thumb and index finger. Pull it away from your eye.
  5. Once removed, put the lens in the palm of your hand. Wet it with contact solution and rub it for about 30 seconds to remove any mucus, dirt, and oil.
  6. After it’s clean, place it in your contact lens case and cover it completely with fresh contact solution.
  7. 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 try at your eye doctor's office first. 

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 contacts. 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, this is a cheaper option than ordering them from your doctor. 

After you get your contact lenses, practice putting them in so you can get comfortable with the process. Many people find it difficult or uncomfortable to wear contacts for the first time. But you will get used to it quickly. 

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 them for a short time, you should speak to your doctor. 

Remember, most people’s eyes feel irritated after several hours of wearing contacts. 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 and wear your glasses until your eyes feel better.

Can You Put a Contact in Wrong?

Yes, even experienced contact lens wearers sometimes put their contacts in wrong. It’s even 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
  • Grittiness
  • Discomfort
  • Eyes watering
  • Contact pops out easily

If you remove your contact because it’s inside out, rinse it in solution before putting it back in. The contact can become contaminated when you touch it.

What Happens if You Insert a Contact Inside Out? 

No permanent damage occurs if you put your contact in 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 going on. Contact lenses are thin and flexible, so it’s easy for them to 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.

Removing contacts without washing your hands first can introduce debris or bacteria to your eye. 

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.

It’s also important to use caution when removing a contact that’s 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, gentle, and don’t panic.
  • Keep your lenses clean. When in doubt, rinse with contact solution. It’s better to over-rinse than to skip rinsing.
  • Replace lenses when needed. This includes when they’re scratched or old. 
  • 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 won’t help and 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.

Contact Stuck in Eye? (When to See a Doctor)

Getting a contact stuck in your eye is frightening, but don't panic. The contact will not get stuck behind your eye. It might require a trip to the doctor to get it out. 

Don't get aggressive when you take out your contacts. Try adding a drop or two of contact lens rewetting drops and wait a minute to see if the lens loosens up. 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.

Best Places to Buy Contacts

Best Overall

1-800 Contacts is our #1 recommendation to buy contacts online.

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GlassesUSA has a huge selection of contacts, glasses, & sunglasses.

Best Places to Buy Glasses

Best Overall

Warby Parker has stylish, high-quality frames at affordable prices.

Also Great

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.

6 Cited Research Articles
  1. Administration, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health. “Contact Lens Safety - Women’s Health Guide - Public Health.” www.publichealth.va.gov.
  2. CDC. “Wear Contact Lenses? Learn How to Care for Them.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 23 July 2020.
  3. Office of the Commissioner. “Focusing on Contact Lens Safety.” FDA, 20 Nov. 2019.
  4. Nast, Condé. “This Is Exactly What You Should Do If Your Contact Lens Gets Lost in Your Eye.” SELF, 13 Apr. 2016.
  5. What to Know before You Buy Contact Lenses.” Mayo Clinic.
  6. Lievens, Christopher W, et al. “Contact Lens Care Tips for Patients: An Optometrist’s Perspective.” Clinical Optometry, vol. 9, 11 Aug. 2017, pp. 113–121.
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