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How to Remove Contact Lenses

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A woman removing a contact lens from her eye and placing it back into a contact lens case.

For people who wear contact lenses, it can be a daunting task to take them off at the end of the day. It can feel uncomfortable and intimidating, especially for new contact lens wearers.

However, it doesn’t have to be a difficult process to remove contact lenses. Start by thoroughly washing and drying your hands. This is crucial to avoid any potential eye infections. Next, gently pull down your lower eyelid, then, very gently pinch the contact lens off your eye. Remember to properly clean and store your lenses after each use. These steps on how to remove contact lenses make the process easy and safe.

People need contact lenses for a variety of reasons. They’re a type of vision correction that’s an alternative to glasses and can be a great option for sports or other physical activities. They’re also useful if you’re not a fan of how you look in glasses or find them to be uncomfortable. 

Everyone has unique eyes and vision. That’s why it’s important to get an eye exam and contact lens fitting to make sure you’re comfortable and seeing clearly.

Understanding Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are transparent, thin discs which are meticulously placed onto the eyes to enhance visual clarity. They rest comfortably on the tear film covering the cornea.

These lenses serve a purpose beyond aesthetics. Similar to a reliable pair of glasses, contact lenses are designed to correct vision impairments caused by refractive errors. A refractive error refers to the eye’s inability to properly bend or focus light, resulting in a distorted image.

Contact lenses are capable of rectifying vision for individuals experiencing various refractive errors, including:

In all these cases, contact lenses can provide a significant improvement.

A woman using a mirror at the optometrist's office to place a contact lens in her eye, but she is having difficulties

How to Remove Contact Lenses: Step-by-Step

Here’s a simple step-by-step guide on how to remove contact lenses for beginners:

Wash & Dry Your Hands

Nearly 97% of Americans aren’t washing their hands correctly. They may use both soap and water, but not everyone washes their hands long enough to get the job done right. 

When touching near your eye, or removing contact lenses, it is very important to make sure your hands are thoroughly cleaned to avoid eye infections. Begin by washing your hands comprehensively with soap and water. In situations where soap and water are unavailable, resort to an antibacterial hand sanitizer.

The correct way to wash your hands: 

  • Initially, dampen your hands with clean, running water, either warm or cold based on your preference.
  • Apply a sufficient amount of soap to cover your hands.
  • Generate a lather by briskly rubbing your hands together.
  • Make sure to scrub all parts of your hands, not forgetting the fingertips, fingernails, and wrists.
  • Continue this process for at least 20 seconds. A practical timer could be humming the “Happy Birthday” song twice in succession.
  • Following adequate scrubbing, thoroughly rinse your hands under clean, running water.
  • Conclude the process by drying your hands with a clean towel or air-drying them.

Remove the Lens

To remove the contact lens from your eye, gently pull down the lower eyelid with one hand while gently pinching the lens with the other hand. Looking away from the lens can help to make the process easier. Use the pads of your fingertips, not the edges of your nail, to “sweep” together and compress the edges of the lens.

For those who prefer not to use their fingers to remove a contact lens, there is an alternative method available. Although not commonly used, a tool known as a “plunger” can be used for lens removal. If opting for this method, it is imperative to make sure that the plunger only comes into contact with the lens and avoids the eye.

Repeat the Process for the Other Eye

Repeat the same process for the other eye and make sure that you don’t mix up the contact lenses. It’s easier to remove one lens and put it away before moving to the next one.

Clean & Store the Lenses

After removing your contact lenses, you’ll need to clean and store them properly. You can use a recommended disinfecting solution to clean and disinfect the contact lenses, followed by storing them in their case. Make sure to replace the solution daily and store the lenses in a clean and dry environment.

You should always keep your lens case sanitized and replace it every three to six months

Storing your lens properly will help prevent contamination and lessen the possibility of infection.

Different Types of Contact Lenses 

There are two main types of contact lenses to choose from: soft and rigid gas permeable (RGP). You need a valid prescription for all contact lenses.

Soft lenses, the more prevalent type, provide immediate comfort for all-day use and are safe for sporting activities, a feature not shared by RGP lenses. These lenses conform comfortably to the shape of your eye, permitting oxygen to pass through and promoting healthier eyes.

RGP lenses maintain their form while also allowing for oxygen permeability. They provide exceptional clarity in vision.

However, the selection of the correct lens material, curvature, and replacement schedule is crucial. For this purpose, speaking with an eye care professional is advised to determine the most suitable lenses for your specific needs. 

Extended Wear Contact Lenses

These lenses are designed for prolonged use, even during sleep. They’re created with safety in mind for overnight wear.

Disposable (Replacement Schedule) Contact Lenses

Disposable lenses offer convenience. After use, they are discarded, eliminating the need for cleaning.

Specialized Uses of Contact Lenses

Some lenses are designed for specific purposes. They can aid in managing certain conditions like dry eyes or keratoconus.

Orthokeratology (Ortho-K)

Ortho-K lenses reshape your cornea as you sleep, resulting in improved vision upon waking.

Decorative (Plano) Contact Lenses

These lenses do not correct vision, but instead alter the appearance of your eyes, ideal for occasions like Halloween or cosplay events.

Mastering the Art of Contact Lens Removal

Removing contact lenses doesn’t have to be a difficult or scary task, but it’s important to follow the steps correctly and stay calm. It is well worth taking the time for a contact lens fitting appointment with your optometrist. They will guide you through the process the first time and make sure you can perform it repeatably on your own.

Always remember to wash your hands, pull down your eyelid, slide down the contact lens, and clean and store them appropriately. 

By following these steps, you can safely remove your contact lenses and keep your eyes healthy and free from infections.

At McCauley Celin Eyecare Associates, we prioritize the health of your eyes. We encourage you not to delay and schedule your appointment with us today. Your eye health should never be put off. 

Dr. Caitlin McCauley

Written by Dr. Caitlin McCauley

Dr. Caitlin “Caity” McCauley has been interested in optometry since she was 15 years old. In high school, she started at the family practice as an optometric assistant and never looked back.

Dr. McCauley graduated top 10 in her class at Ohio State University, first in 2003 with her Bachelor of Science and then in 2007 with her Doctorate of Optometry. She completed rotations in ocular disease and contact lenses, as well as externships at the Dayton VA hospital and with LASIK specialists in Canton, Ohio.

With a particular interest and passion for pediatric vision, Dr. McCauley remains the practice’s resident authority on children’s eye care, including myopia control. Supporting and interacting with her incredible patients brings Dr. McCauley a strong sense of fulfillment in her work.

More Articles By Dr. Caitlin McCauley

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