How to Remove a Broken Contact Lens

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(Image: contact on finger image by Melking from Fotolia.com)

In earlier times, contact lenses were made from glass and generally came in the size of your entire eyeball. Should one of these lenses break in your eye, it could prove a serious hazard. Today, however, modern contacts are made from better material. Modern hard contacts are difficult to break or crack: if struck in the eye with enough force to break the lens, the strike itself would be much more of a concern. Modern soft contact lenses can tear, but rarely cause damage to the eye.

Things You'll Need

  • Saline eye solution
  • Mirror
  • Small glass

Locating and Removing Broken Contact Lens with Assistance

Check for the contact lens. Ask someone to assist you. Looking down toward your nose, lift the upper lid as far as comfortably possible.

Instruct your assistant to look under the upper lid for the lens. Locate the lens.

Retrieve the lens. Keeping your gaze downward, begin rubbing the exterior of your eyelid. Use an outward motion over the eyelid, from the nasal side out towards the temple. The contact lens should slide to an area of your eye where you or your assistant can easily retrieve it.

Locating and Removing Broken Contact Lens by Self

Identify the position of the broken lens on the eyeball. Stand in front of a mirror. Open your eye as wide as possible and continually move the eyeball in wide circular motions until the lens is visible.

Add saline eye drops to the eye. This will add flexibility in removal of the lens.

Grasp the lens with your thumb and index finger. Pull it away from the eye.

Removing Hidden Broken Contact Lens

Get a small glass, such as a shot glass. Fill it with warm saline eye solution or, if necessary, slightly-salted purified water.

Standing, lean forward over a sink. Hold the glass of solution over your eye. Cup your eye tightly, forming a seal. Ensuring the glass is over the eye and the eye is open, completely bathe the eye with the solution.

While flooding the eye, move your eyeball around in wide circular motions. The broken lens should be loosened by the solution-bath, falling out eventually. Repeat the process as necessary.

Tips & Warnings

  • Once the broken contact lens is successfully removed, barring no significant damage, your eye will feel immediately relief.
  • When a contact lens is broken or lost in the eye, most of the time it is folded under your upper eyelid.
  • Some contact lenses tear, or "break" easier than others. The water content of the lens, the material from which it's made, and its thickness, are all factors that contribute to the breaking of a contact lens.
  • The primary factor for tearing or "breaking" a contact lens is dryness. Keeping your eyes and your contact lenses moist and hydrated will reduce the chances of them tearing.
  • If several attempts at locating and removing the broken contact lens prove unsuccessful, be comforted that the eyeball will naturally flush it out in time.
  • Both the upper and lower eyelid are connected the eyeball itself. This means that a contact lens cannot hide in the lower eyelid and, though it can and does often conceal itself in the upper eyelid, the lens cannot go far there either.
  • Do not panic about a lost contact lens in your eye. A contact lens under the eyelid is not painful and does not cause any damage.
  • Additionally, most contact lenses today are soft, or not made from glass. Therefore even a broken lens will not likely cause damage to the eye.
  • Do not go to sleep with a broken lens in the eye. The eyeball dries out at night (since blinking is infrequent). Consequently, if you rub the eye while asleep, the broken lens can scratch the eyeball.
  • Never use fingernails to remove or handle a contact lens.
  • Do not put a torn or broken contact lens back into your eye once it has been removed.

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