How to Put in and Take Out Contacts

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

Even if you’ve been wearing contacts for years, it’s important to remember how to put them in safely. 

The following steps ensure you get 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 chosen contact lens solution.
  4. Gently place the lens on the tip of your index or middle finger of your dominant hand.
  5. Check to make sure the lens isn’t damaged and that you have the correct side facing up. This means the edges are turned up, forming 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. Once it’s inserted, close your eye slowly and either roll your eye around or press gently on the eyelid to settle the lens in place. It should feel comfortable and 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.

How to Put in Contacts for the First Time 

Most people are nervous about putting contact lenses in their eyes for the first time. Many have their first experience inserting contacts into their eyes at an eye doctor’s office. 

If you’ve considered upgrading from eyeglasses and you want to try contacts, 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, so don’t assume you can order contact lenses online based on your glasses prescription. 

Your eye doctor will conduct a completely different test for your eyes if you want to wear contacts. 

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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, you’ll want to practice putting them in your eyes so you can get comfortable with the process. Many people find it difficult or uncomfortable to wear contacts for the first time, but they get used to it. 

There is an adjustment period for your eyes, so if contacts aren’t perfectly comfortable when you first put them in, don’t panic. However, if your eyes feel irritated after wearing them for a short time, you should speak to your doctor about the problem. 

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 and irritated, simply 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 need to remove your contact because it’s inside out, make sure you rinse it in solution before putting it back into your eye. Failing to do so poses a risk because 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 “off” or 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.

Over time, you’ll get more comfortable with putting your contacts in and you’ll make fewer mistakes. Experienced users sometimes put them on inside out, but it happens less and less the more familiar you become with wearing lenses. Some people are even able to get contacts in and out without looking in a mirror.

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

The following steps ensure you get your contacts out safely:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly and dry them.
  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.

Is There a Wrong Way to Remove Contacts?

Most of the time, removing contacts is easy and there isn’t a wrong way to do it. However, there are mistakes you can make that put your eye health at risk.

Removing contacts without washing your hands first can lead to exposing your eyes to debris and dangerous substances. 

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 feel the need to be more aggressive to remove it, this is an indication to contact your eye doctor for help with removal. 

Tips for Dealing With New Contact Lenses

If you’re about to begin wearing new contact lenses, the following tips can help:

  • Relax. You probably have nothing to worry about, as long as you are patient, gentle, and don’t panic.
  • Keep your lenses clean. When in doubt of your lens’s cleanliness, 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. 
  • Properly dispose of old contact lenses and packaging.
  • 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 and don’t try to stretch how long you wear your contacts. 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 and make the problem worse.
  • Wash and dry your hands before touching the contact to correct the problem.
  • Inspect your lenses carefully before putting them in each time and when something feels uncomfortable. Sometimes lenses tear or have damage.
  • 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 temporarily and contact your doctor.

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

Getting a contact stuck in your eye is a frightening experience, but don't panic. You don’t need to worry about the contact getting stuck behind your eye, but it might require a trip to the doctor to get it out. 

You should never be aggressive with contact removal. 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 and if it’s still stuck after several tries, or removing it is uncomfortable, contact your doctor.

It’s important to make sure you find the exact location of the contact in your eye because sometimes they shift around. If it’s centered on your cornea and you can’t remove it because it dried out while in use, stream sterile saline into your eye to re-moisten and work the lens loose. You’ll know you’re on the right track when you can feel the contact slipping around your eye again.

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.

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Administration, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health. “Contact Lens Safety - Women’s Health Guide - Public Health.”

CDC. “Wear Contact Lenses? Learn How to Care for Them.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 23 July 2020.

Office of the Commissioner. “Focusing on Contact Lens Safety.” FDA, 20 Nov. 2019.

Nast, Condé. “This Is Exactly What You Should Do If Your Contact Lens Gets Lost in Your Eye.” SELF, 13 Apr. 2016.

What to Know before You Buy Contact Lenses.” Mayo Clinic.

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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