Losing a contact in your eye is frustrating and uncomfortable, but it can also be dangerous if it’s lost for an extended period of time. I’ll be explaining how contact lenses get stuck in your eye and a few steps you can take to retrieve a lost contact lens.
Can Contacts Get Lost in Your Eye?
The quick answer is no; contact lenses cannot get entirely lost in your eyes forever. This is a fear many new contact lens wearers have, and even some experienced wearers as well. It is virtually impossible for a lens to become completely stuck behind the eye or lost in the eye permanently. However, it is possible for the lens to become displaced or dislodged underneath your eyelid, which can make the recovery mission a bit more tricky.
Many contact lens wearers may have experienced the phenomenon of getting a lens misplaced in the eye. This commonly occurs after rubbing the eyes, getting something else stuck in your eyes, sleeping in contact lenses, or with very dry eyes.
It is also possible for a piece or a fragment of a contact lens to become stuck under the eyelid when the lens is ripped during insertion or removal.
The good news is that contact lenses cannot slide behind your eye and will not become stuck back there forever. The anatomy of the eyelid prevents any materials, including contact lenses, from slipping behind your eyeball.
How Do Contacts Get Stuck?
There are a few different ways that contact lenses can become stuck in the eye. Patient’s who rub their eyes may physically move the lens off of the cornea–the central part of the eye. When the lens is moved, it can become rolled up or misshapen and become lodged in the lower lid, upper lid, or sides of the eye.
Patients who sleep in their lenses can also have issues with “stuck” contacts. When a contact dries out, it can become dehydrated and stick to the cornea. Because the ocular surface is not well lubricated, the lens can catch on the eyelid upon opening the eyes and blinking, causing the lens to be pulled off the front surface and potentially caught underneath the lid.
Related: See the best contacts for dry eyes.
It is also possible for a piece or a fragment of a contact lens to become stuck under the eyelid. If you tear or rip a lens while taking it out of your eye, the small pieces may become trapped in the lid.
What To Do If I lose My Contact In My Eye? / How to Get a Stuck Lens Out of My Eye
The first thing to do if you believe a soft contact lens is stuck in your eye is to remain calm. It is impossible for a lens to become completely “lost” or stuck behind your eye because of the tissues and other parts of the anatomy of your eye, so there is no need to worry!
You’ll first want to examine your surrounding area to confirm that the contact lens didn’t just accidentally fall out of your eye. You might feel a sensation that the lens is still in your eye because the eye is irritated, while the lens has already fallen out.
The next step is to thoroughly wash your hands. You want to make sure your hands are nice and clean before you start directly touching the eye to reduce the chance of causing an infection.
Rewetting drops or saline solutions are very helpful when it comes to trying to dislodge a stuck lens. You will want to be generous with the amount of irrigating you do – the more moisture, the better! Try pulling the lids away from the surface of the globe and aim the drops or solution in the area where you think the lens might be stuck. Frequently blink your eyes while irrigating with the solution to disperse the lubricating fluid.
If the previous step is not fully successful in removing the lens, gently massage the upper or lower lids to help the lens move itself out. Try not to apply forceful pressure.
You don’t want to cause a corneal abrasion while trying to find a lost lens! The eyelids are very thin, so use light pressure and try to feel for the contact lens.
If these steps are not successful, you can attempt to flip your eyelid inside out. Use a mirror for this step, as it is usually more helpful to see if a lens is stuck under the lid.
Here is a video that shows how you can flip your eyelid. Make sure to only let clean or sterile objects (including fingers) touch your eye!
What If I Can’t Get My Lost Contact Out?
If a lens is still stuck in your eye after attempting all of the above techniques, you’ll want to make an appointment with your local eye care provider. Your eye doctor can do a more thorough examination and will have a better view of where the lens is stuck in order to remove it.
If you are traveling in an area where you do not have a set eye care provider, try searching for local on-call eye doctors.
How can I Reduce My Risk of Getting a Contact Stuck in My Eye?
The biggest way to prevent a lens from getting stuck in the eye would be not to sleep in the contact lenses, practice good contact lens removal techniques, and try not to rub your eyes.
It is also important to replace your contact lenses as directed because old lenses can easily dry out, which is also an associated risk.
If you rub your eyes and the lens falls out, thoroughly clean it with solution (if it’s not a daily disposable lens) before reinserting it or open a brand new lens. Doing this will help you avoid infection and irritation.
Can You Go Blind From A Lost Contact in the Eye?
No! The vast majority of the time, a contact lens stuck in the eye will not cause serious harm to your health. Although the stuck lens may be very uncomfortable, it should not cause a vision-threatening emergency. That being said, it is important to get your eyes examined by an eyecare provider if you have a lens that is stuck that you cannot remove yourself.
Any foreign material that is stuck in the eye for an extended period of time has an increased risk of causing infection or inflammation, so it is best to get the lens removed as soon as possible.
Can You Have a Contact Stuck in Your Eye and Not Know It?
Although rare, it is possible for a lens to become stuck in your eye without your knowledge. These patients typically have very flexible eyelids or a very high tolerance for irritation, so that is why the discomfort of the lens is not initially noticed.
You’ll sometimes hear stories about someone who finds a contact years after losing it. This is exceedingly rare! As you know, the eyes are super sensitive, and they’ll let you know if they are uncomfortable.
If you suspect that a lens has become stuck in your eye, it is important to schedule a visit with your eye doctor to confirm that the lens is removed and that there is no damage to the eye.
Is it normal for a contact lens to regularly get lost in my eye?
It is not normal for a lens to frequently become misplaced in the eye. If this frequently happens to you, your lens may not be the correct fit for your eye shape. You may also be rubbing your eye too frequently or intensely. Or perhaps you are not removing the lenses properly. If this regularly happens, schedule a visit with your eye doctor to troubleshoot possible causes.
If the cause of your contact getting repeatedly lost in your eye is an ill-fitting lens, ask for a new brand to try and don’t forget to use our lens price comparison page to save money.
Another cause could be ptosis or the drooping of your eyelid, which can interfere with the fit of your contacts!
Can Ptosis or a Droopy Eyelid, or Hooded Eyes Interfere with Contact Lenses?
Yes, a droopy eyelid can most certainly interfere with getting a proper contact lens fit. Which, in turn, can cause you to lose a contact lens! Speak to your eye doctor about your concerns, and they will help you find the correct treatment. There isn’t a strong link between hooded eyes and lost contact lenses, but anything is possible.
Can you Lose A Contact Lens Playing Sports
Yes, sports with physical contact always come with the risk of having an opponent’s finger dislodge your contact lens. However, contact lenses are safe for sports, and you can see our list of the best contact for sports.
If you started reading this article with a contact lens stuck in your eye, I hope you’ve used these tips to remove it safely!
Dr. Olivia Burger, O.D. is an optometrist who graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. She is pursuing a 1-year residency at the UC Berkeley School of Optometry in Vision Science in Primary Care / Contact Lens. Her optometric areas of interest include private practice, contact lenses, and optometric service organizations such as VOSH. In her free time, she enjoys live music and is a freelance concert photographer.