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Yes, You Can Lose a Contact Lens in Your Eye: Here’s What You Need to Know

Extreme cases of people who have left multiple sets of contact lenses in their eyes have made headlines over the years. In 2017, reports of a 65-year-old British woman who had 27 disposable contacts removed from her eyes horrified contact lens wearers everywhere.

On the less extreme side, maybe you fell asleep without taking your contact lenses out. Or maybe you got distracted and put two lenses (or more) in one eye and now you can’t quite locate one of them. Should you worry? 

“Probably not,” says David Meyer, OD, FAAO, director of Contact Lens Services at John A. Moran Eye Center. "It's not that uncommon for patients to accidentally put more than one lens in an eye. And while contact lenses can decenter and move to another place in your eye, they cannot travel very far.” 

While patients may worry that a lens will get lodged in a corner forever, that's not the case. Your doctor can remove them from any location they could potentially go.

What to do if you lose a contact in your eye

  1. Stay calm. You may have blurred vision in that eye, and it may feel uncomfortable. 
  2. Wash your hands with soap and warm water before you try to remove the lens. This helps reduce the risk of bacteria getting into your eyes. 
  3. Use artificial tears eye drops in your eye to help loosen the contact lens and make it easier to remove.
  4. Gently close and massage your eye if you can feel the lens under your eyelid. This will help move the contact to a spot where you can reach it. 
  5. Consult your doctor if you experience redness and pain for a few hours after removing the lens.

If you can’t find the lens in your eye

Check under your eyelid by carefully flipping your eyelid inside out and examining it for the missing contact. If the lens is attached to the underside of the lid, you may be able to remove it easily. If not, contact your eye doctor. 

If the lost contact is still stuck or difficult to remove

Don’t struggle, as you may cause serious damage. In this case, it’s best to contact your eye doctor or an emergency department for advice. 

And remember: NEVER put another contact lens in your eye while you’re looking for the lost contact. This will only make the situation worse and could result in a scratched cornea.

Refresh your contact lens safety knowledge

“Whether you’re new to contact lenses or have been wearing them for a while, it’s always a good idea to review some contact lens safety tips,” Meyer says. “Following routine ‘best practices’ and taking a few minutes to properly clean and store your lenses could save your vision.”