Contact lens lost in eye

Originally Published: August 21, 1998 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: April 29, 2011
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Dear Alice,

I lost my contact in my eye. What should I do?

Dear Reader,

Eye, caramba! As annoying and frustrating as a contact lens gone awry, or bye-bye, can be, it's wise to take a deep breath, wash your hands and face (if possible), and gather up patience before you go hunting for it.

First, let's look for the lens in your affected eye. Whether it's a soft or hard lens, use LOTS of saline solution in the eye. Resting the eye by leaving it closed for a while can make it easier for your lens to reappear. If this doesn't work for you and you wear soft contact lenses, pulling down your lower lid or the skin below the eye with clean fingers and then trying to blink may help you in your search. You'll probably have to do this several times, sometimes with the help of some saline solution or eye drops. Another option, which can help hard contact lens wearers in particular, is to allow the lens to dry out, which may help it to pop out more easily.

Perhaps the contact lens has already come out, but you feel that something is still there because your eye is irritated. To relieve some of this discomfort, try rinsing or bathing the affected eye with cool water or using over-the-counter eye drops. If the irritation persists, you might want to visit a health care provider or ophthalmologist — it's possible you've scratched your eye and that can be painful! If you are a Columbia student, make an appointment at Medical Services by calling x4-2284 or by logging into Open Communicator. Go easy on your eye (s)!