how to insert and remove contact lenses

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Insertion and Removal of Contact Lenses

Inserting and removing contact lenses is a relatively easy process. It requires physical contact between the fingers and the lens so it is very important that your hands are clean before beginning to avoid complications such as scratching the eye and infection. It is best not to wash with a liquid soap because they can leave a residue on your hands. Remove all traces of soaps, perfumes, hairsprays, dirt, etc from your hands. Be sure to use only your fingertip and not your nails to touch the contact to avoid scratching or tearing the lens. Keep your nails trimmed and clean.


Insertion is the same for soft and hard contacts. Follow the procedure as outlined below.

  1. Gently rest your finger on the lens in the storage case. The lens will stick to your finger and can be lifted out.
  2. Carefully maneuver the lens to the tip of your forefinger.
  3. Gently pull you lower eyelid down using the middle finger of the same hand the lens is on.
  4. Lift the upper eyelid firmly from above with the middle finger of your opposite hand. The lid should be lifted at the point the lid meets the lashes.
  5. With your eye wide open gently place the lens on the cornea.
  6. First release the lower lid and then the upper lid.
  7. Blink. The lens is inserted.
  8. If the lens is displaced on to the white part of the eye it must be centered. This can be accomplished in one of two ways.
    • Close your eyes and gently maneuver the lens into proper position using the eyelids.
    • Keeping your eyes open, place your finger gently onto the edge of your upper or lower eyelid and maneuver the lens into position.

If the surface tension between the lens and the finger is too high, the lens may turn inside out or fold in half. In this case it may be necessary to irrigate the eye.

Contacts are generally removed at bedtime or when the lens needs to be cleaned. They are also removed during an eye exam or if there is injury or irritation to the eye.


  1. Pull your lower eyelid down with your middle finger.
  2. Place the tip of your fore finger on the lower edge of the lens.
  3. Slide the lens down onto the white of your eye and hold it gently between your thumb and forefinger, which will fold the lens.
  4. Remove the lens from the eye.


An emergency situation arises when the person is unconscious or barely conscious, there is trauma to the eye, or the person simply cannot remove the contact themselves for any reason. In the case of an emergency there are different procedures for removing hard and soft contacts.


Similar to the individual removing their own contact, a clinician will pull the lower lid down, slide the contact on to the sclera, pinch the contact between the finger and thumb and remove the lens.


There are three possible procedures here.

  1. The patient places their face on a table or cloth. The clinician then maneuvers both the upper and lower eyelids so that they rest against the edges of the contact lens. Now the patient moves their eye to look at their nose and then chin. This will push the lower lid under the lens and flip it off the eye. This method requires a very cooperative patient.
  2. A topical anesthetic can be used to make the process easier on both parties. In this case, a cotton tipped applicator can gently guide the lens off the cornea onto the sclera. Then the applicator can be forced under the contact to remove the lens.
  3. The easiest way to remove a hard contact lens in an emergency situation is with a wet suction device, which lifts the lens. This procedure is used most often in cases of a torn cornea

Occasionally the eye can be scratched during the removal of a contact lens, but the cornea responds well to treatment. Insertion and removal of contact lenses can be done safely and with relative ease, with few possible complications. Well worth the learning to rid yourself of those glasses.

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