Taking Out Contact Lenses: Step by Step Process

Removing contact lenses from your eyes tends to be easier than putting them in. The goal when inserting a lens is creating a seal with the rim of the lens on the eye, while the goal of removing it is safely breaking this seal. There are many ways to go about breaking the seal, but the following method is quick and simple, and especially good for the new wearers. If done correctly, the lens will come out swiftly and safely.

Before you take contacts out, you’ll have to learn how to safely put them in. Check out our guide on:

How to safely put in contact lenses →

Video Guide: Removing Contact Lenses

Pro Tips for Taking Out in Contacts

1: Sanitize

Wash your hands with antibacterial non-lotion soap and rinse thoroughly.

2: Position your focus

Look into the mirror directly at the lens that you are about to remove. With the hand that will not be removing the contact lens, pull the lower lid down to expose the pink tissue behind the lower lid of the eye with the lens that you’re intending to remove.

3: Make contact with your fingertip

With the skin of your pointer finger of your free hand leveled horizontally to your face, press toward the eye to make contact with the contact lens just below your pupil (the black “dot” in the middle of the color part of your eye) with the top pad of your finger.

4: Drag the lens

Maintain pressure on the contact lens while keeping your finger horizontal, and drag the contact lens off of the cornea (the clear dome over the color part of your eye upon which the contact lens sits) toward the lower lid.

TIP: The eye is round, so your finger can not just push straight down while sliding the lens toward the lid. Your finger needs to maintain pressure around the rounded contour of the eye, so your finger must move slightly inward as it slides the lens downward.

5: Break the seal

Force the rim of the contact lens against the tissue of the lower lid with continued downward motion until the contact lens rolls and wrinkles, therefore breaking the seal of the contact lens on the eye. (Think of how you would pick up a thin piece of paper off the floor if you couldn’t grip it… you would push it against another object to make it wrinkle so you could grab it.)

6: Remove the lens

Either blink and let the lids remove the contact lens, or grab the lens with the pads of your fingers.

Risks of Removing Contacts Incorrectly and the Correction

Similarly to inserting a lens, there are risks of damaging your eye when taking them out. Be careful and do not rush when removing contacts.

1: Scratching your eye (Use the pads of the skin of your fingers)

2: Infecting the Eye (Wash your hands properly)

3: Irritating the eye (Implement safe and proper procedure, Do NOT use fingernails)

Common Contact Lens Removal Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Using fingernails to grab the lens (This is unsafe, especially if the lens is not where you think it is. You can easily scratch your eye. Instead, use the pads of your finger to manipulate the contact lens)
  2. Blinking while trying to remove it (Blinking is like the “reset” button for a contact lens. Contact lenses are designed to move back into the “fitting” position with every blink)
  3. Not following the contour of the eye while sliding the lens. (Remember: the eye is round, so slide straight down, but also follow the contour of the eye to maintain pressure on the lens)
  4. Looking away. (If you look away, the contact lens moves away too. Then, if you press down, you won’t be pressing on the contact lens, you will be pressing on the eye and creating damage to your eye. Therefore, keep your attention on the action. If you can’t see what is happening, then STOP! You’re not looking in the right direction.)
  5. The lens gets stuck to the side of the eye (This will happen if you’re looking away or not sliding the lens straight down toward the lid. Don’t panic. Just use the pad of your finger, and slide the lens to the center again.) NOTE: Rarely, the contact will get caught under the upper lid. Usually it occurs with poor removing technique and why we encourage going straight down and into the lower lid. If it does, this is not dangerous nor an emergency situation, just inconvenient. (If it is lodged for days, then it may be a harbor for bacteria, viruses, protein, and lipids and your eye could definitely react to it, but it is not an immediate threat.) In this situation, blinking and moving your eyes around will usually get the lens to move into a position where you can manipulate it. And often, people THINK their lens rolled under their upper lid when they lose track of the lens, when ACTUALLY the lens already fell out. (And so you know:  if a lens gets trapped under your upper lid, it will NOT roll back into your head and brain. There is a barrier in the upper lid that keeps the lens from entering the body.) If the lens is truly trapped, let your eye doctor remove it so you don’t create any unnecessary damage while probing for the lens.
  6. Petting the lens (Press on the lens firmly to get it to slide. No, don’t push your eyeball into your brain, but press in hard enough to establish control of the lens so you can move it. So, don’t pet it, press on the contact lens enough to control it with the pressure.)
  7. Losing the lens when it comes breaks the seal. (When the seal breaks, the lids will quickly do their job of removing stuff from the eye. The contact lens will fold and likely come flopping out of the eye with each blink. Control your blink rate to assist removal, but don’t blink excessively to lose track of the lens location. Also, cup your hand under your eye, and watch where the contact lens goes. Usually it will be at the end of your lids and you can grab it with your fingers. If it falls out, hopefully it will fall into your hand. If it misses your hand, hopefully you are over a sterile countertop where you can easily find the lens.)

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