Can I lose a Contact Lens in my Eye?
Sometimes people worry that their contact lenses could permanently get lost in their eyeballs.
Although a contact lens could get stuck behind the upper eyelid, it's physically impossible for a contact lens to get "lost" in a person's eye. The reason this is impossible has to do with a thin lining known as conjunctiva. Conjunctiva is a moist lining located on the inner surface of a person's eyelids. Officially considered a mucous membrane, the conjunctiva wraps around the eyelids and covers the white part of the outer eye.
Since the conjunctiva is just one connected membrane, it's impossible for any foreign objects to pass from the front of the eye to the back.
Despite the fact that contacts can't get lost inside the eyes, there are times when the lens could slip out of place and feel as if it got "lost" behind the upper eyelid. Most of the time this happens when a contact lens wearer gets hit in the eye or rubs his/her eye aggressively. Whatever trauma happens to the eye, when a contact feels "lost" it always ends up folding in half and getting stuck behind the upper eyelid.
The faint sensation most people feel as their contact gets stuck in the upper eyelid actually has a medical name: "foreign body sensation." Even if you don't feel the contact behind your upper eyelid, you'll definitely notice the lack of clarity in your vision once it pops out.
The most common solution to this dilemma is to squirt a few eye drops into the affected eye and then close the eye for a few seconds. You can also massage the upper eyelid with your eye closed to help the contact lens move to the center of the eye. The folded lens tends to gravitate towards the cornea using this method. Once you see it near the center of your eye, you should be able to easily take it out. Be sure to wash the lens thoroughly in solution before putting it back into your eye.
There is a more "extreme" technique for getting the folded contact out of the upper eyelid. Just be forewarned, this method isn't for the squeamish. First, place a Q-Tip across the outer upper eyelid. As you look downwards, grab your eyelashes with one hand and slowly pull the eyelid down. Now flip the eyelid inside out over the Q-Tip. If you have your head back and are looking into a mirror with your good eye, you should be able to see the folded contact lens. Once you see it, just nudge the contact out and remove it with great care.
If you can't perform either of these techniques, no worries. You can ask someone you trust to help you out. If your ophthalmologist is available, you could also call him/her for assistance. Just remember, a contact lens can never be "lost" inside your eye. This biological truth will hopefully relax you and make it easier to get the folded contact lens out of your eye.
Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 29 Jul 2017, Last modified: 17 Jul 2019