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How to Insert and Remove Soft Contact Lenses

Learning how to properly insert and remove soft contact lenses can help prevent long-term damage to your eyes.

If you wear contact lenses, inserting and removing them might be an action you perform daily. But are you following the proper protocol?

“Contact lenses can be a great alternative option to wearing eye glasses,” said Optometrist Brittney J. Mazza, OD, who is part of the Optometry and Contact Lens Service at Mass. Eye and Ear. “It is important to keep in mind that they are medical devices,” she said. “So you do want to have a discussion with your doctor about your goals of wearing contact lenses so that you are fit into the appropriate lens.”

There are several different types of contact lenses. Most people use soft disposable lenses, but there are other types that optometrists may prescribe for different reasons, such as rigid gas permeables, hybrids and scleral lenses. Talk with your optometrist about the best contact lenses for you.

Below, Dr. Mazza shares five steps to ensure that you are correctly handling your contact lenses and, ultimately, caring for your eyes. Watch the full tutorial in the above video.

 Step 1: Wash your hands

Before inserting contact lenses, it is important to wash your hands with a mild soap, one without lotion or fragrance. Afterwards, dry your hands with a lint free paper towel to avoid any debris.

Step 2: Inspect the contact lens

  • Peel away the foil of the contact lens blister pack or open a contact lens case, and gently spill out the contents into the palm of your hand. Make sure to protect the surface with a clean paper towel underneath so you don’t lose the lens.
  • Examine the lens and check its orientation. Place the lens on the tip of your index finger and hold it at eye level. It should face up like the shape of a bowl. If it is not in the correction formation, it will look more like a saucer where the edges overt outward. Examine the lens carefully to be sure it doesn’t have any defects, debris, rips or tears.

Step 3: Insert the contact lens

Watch a video segment to see how to insert a soft contact lens or follow these instructions:

  • Place the contact lens on your index finger of your dominant hand with all edges facing upward.
  • Use the middle finger of your dominant hand to pull down your lower eyelid.
  • Take the middle finger of your opposite hand and hold up your upper eyelid.
  • Bring your index finger that is balancing the lens up to the front of your eye.
  • While looking straight into a mirror with your head turned slightly to the side, place the lens onto the exposed white part of your eye. For the right eye, turn your head to the right slightly and vice versa for your left eye.
  • Move your finger away.
  • Look into the contact lens to re-center it over the cornea (where it is supposed to sit) and release your eyelids gently once the lens is centered.

Once the lens is inserted, you can close your eye and look around or gently massage the closed eyelid if needed.

Step 4: Remove the contact lens

You are going to remove the contact lens in a similar manner to the lens insertion. Start by washing and drying your hands (see Step 1 above). Be sure to face the mirror with your head slightly turned to the side so you can see what you are doing through the removal process.

Watch a video segment to see how to remove a soft contact lens or follow these instructions:

  • Use the middle finger of your dominant hand to pull down your lower eyelid.
  • Take the middle finger of your opposite hand and hold open your upper eyelid.
  • Bring your index finger of your dominant hand to the front of your eye and gently touch the outer edge of the contact lens.
  • Slowly slide the lens off to the side, onto the outer white part of your eye, and bring your thumb in to meet the lens.
  • Gently pinch the lens and pull it away from the eye.

Step 5: Throw away or clean the contact lens

If your lens is a daily disposable, throw it away. If it is not, you need to clean and disinfect the lens in the appropriate solution. Once opened from the blister pack, some lenses are kept for two weeks, monthly, quarterly or annually before they are replaced. They must be cared for between uses as recommended by your doctor. The contact lens case used for storage should be replaced frequently too, at least every three months.

As a final point, Dr. Mazza emphasized that “the two eyes can have different prescriptions, so if that is the case, be sure to take care of which contact lens goes in the left and right eye to avoid mix ups.”

Contact lenses are safe when fitted properly and cared for appropriately. If you would like to have a discussion about your goals of wearing contact lenses and to be fitted for them, call the Mass. Eye and Ear Optometry and Contact Lens Service at 617-573-3185 or request an appointment online.

About Our Expert

 Dr. Brittney Mazza specializes in fitting and managing patients wearing contact lenses. She sees patients at Mass. Eye and Ear’s Longwood and main campus locations.

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