Sep 18th 2023

Emergency Lens Care: Handling Stuck Contacts & Irritations

Emergency Lens Care: Handling Stuck Contacts & Irritations

For many, contact lenses are a daily essential as they offer a clear, unobstructed view of the world without the hassle of glasses. But what happens when something goes awry? A lens gets stuck, or there's sudden irritation? Before panic sets in, especially for new lens wearers, we’ve compiled some important information for you to know so you can be prepared to handle any contact lens situation with ease.

Why Do Contact Lenses Get Stuck or Cause Irritation?

Contact lenses can sometimes present challenges that leave wearers puzzled or even alarmed. You might wonder, "Why is my lens not moving as it usually does– is it stuck?" or "What is causing this sudden discomfort?"

Understanding the root cause of these common issues can demystify the experience and empower wearers to take proactive steps. Let's delve into some of the primary reasons behind these lens-related dilemmas:

  1. Dry Eyes: One of the primary challenges faced by contact lens wearers is dry eyes. When the eyes don't produce enough tears, the lens can adhere more firmly to the cornea. This lack of lubrication not only makes the lens harder to remove but can also lead to discomfort throughout the day. Ensuring proper hydration and using lubricating eye drops can help combat this issue.
  2. Wearing Lenses for Extended Periods: The convenience of contact lenses can sometimes lead to overuse. Wearing them beyond the recommended duration can cause the lenses to dehydrate. This dehydration increases the lens's grip on the eye, potentially leading to complications and discomfort. It's crucial to adhere to wearing schedules and give eyes their much-needed rest to rejuvenate.
  3. Foreign Particles: Our eyes are exposed to numerous tiny particles daily, from dust, pollution, and makeup residue. These particles can get trapped between the contact lens and the eye's surface, leading to irritation. Regular cleaning and using caution in dusty environments or when applying makeup can help minimize this risk.
  4. Improper Lens Care: The importance of using the right cleaning solutions for contact lenses cannot be overstated. Relying on expired solutions or those not suited for your lens type can lead to eye irritations. Always ensure that the cleaning solutions are within their use-by date and are compatible with your lenses.
  5. Damaged Lenses: Lenses, though durable, are not invincible. They can develop micro tears or deformities over time, which might not be immediately visible. Wearing a damaged lens can lead to significant discomfort and even potential eye damage. Regularly inspecting lenses for any signs of wear and tear and replacing them as needed is always essential.

What to Do When a Contact Lens Gets Stuck

It's a situation many lens wearers dread: the sensation that a lens has become immovable, adhered to the eye's surface. While it can be a startling experience, especially for those new to contact lenses, it's essential to remember that it's a common issue with often simple solutions.

Before you consider reaching out to a professional, there are several tried-and-true methods you can employ at home to safely address the situation:

  1. Stay Calm: In moments of unexpected discomfort or uncertainty, our initial reaction might be to panic. However, heightened anxiety can make the situation seem worse and hinder clear thinking. It's essential to pause, take a deep breath, and approach the situation with a calm and methodical mindset. Remember, most lens-related issues have straightforward solutions.
  2. Wash Your Hands: Before addressing any eye-related concern, cleanliness is paramount. Thoroughly washing your hands eliminates potential contaminants, ensuring that you don't inadvertently introduce additional irritants or pathogens to the eye when trying to resolve the issue.
  3. Moisten Your Eye: A dry environment can make a stuck lens even more stubborn. Using a sterile saline solution or specific lubricating eye drops can reintroduce moisture, facilitating the lens's movement. This hydration can ease the removal process and provide immediate relief.
  4. Gently Massage: If a lens seems immovable, a gentle approach is key. With your eyelid closed, gently massage over the area where the lens sits. This action can help reposition the lens, making it more accessible for removal or adjustment. Don’t rub too hard, however, as this can irritate the eye.
  5. Blink and Look: Our natural eye movements can sometimes assist in dislodging a stubborn lens. Rapid blinking or shifting your gaze in various directions can create subtle movements in the eye's surface, helping the lens to reposition itself.
  6. Do Not Force: Patience is crucial. If, despite your efforts, the lens remains stuck, avoid using excessive force. Overzealous attempts can lead to eye injury or further embed the lens. In such cases where the lens still remains stuck despite all of these attempts, seeking professional assistance is then the best course of action.

Addressing Contact Lens Irritation

The sudden onset of irritation when wearing contact lenses can be both uncomfortable and concerning. Whether it's a mild sting or a more pronounced burning sensation, it's crucial to approach the situation with both care and knowledge.

Recognizing the signs and understanding the immediate steps to alleviate discomfort can make all the difference. Here's a guide to navigating and remedying contact lens irritation:

  1. Remove the Lens: Experiencing discomfort while wearing contact lenses is a sign that something might be amiss. The immediate course of action should be to remove the lens to prevent further irritation. It's imperative to ensure your hands are thoroughly cleaned before attempting removal, as this minimizes the risk of introducing additional irritants or contaminants to the eye.
  2. Inspect the Lens: Once removed, take a moment to closely examine the lens. Look for signs of damage, trapped debris, or any dirt. A compromised lens can be the root cause of discomfort. If any abnormalities or damages are detected, it's best to safely discard the lens to avoid future complications.
  3. Cleanse Your Eye: After lens removal, it's a good practice to rinse the eye. Using a sterile saline solution provides a gentle cleanse, helping to wash away any potential irritants that might be causing the discomfort. This step can offer immediate relief and ensure the eye is clean.
  4. Rest Your Eyes: After addressing an eye irritation, it's beneficial to let your eyes recuperate. Switching to glasses for the rest of the day or until recovered can provide the necessary recuperation, allowing any minor irritations to heal and ensuring you don't exacerbate the issue by reinserting the lens too soon.
  5. Seek Professional Help: While many minor irritations can be addressed at home, persistent discomfort or significant pain should not be ignored. In such cases, it's crucial to consult an optometrist. They can provide a thorough examination, identify the root cause, and recommend appropriate treatments or interventions.

Preventive Measures

While it's essential to know how to address lens-related emergencies, prevention remains the best medicine. Adopting a proactive approach and integrating preventive measures into your daily routine can significantly reduce the likelihood of facing lens-related issues.

From regular check-ups to daily habits, let's explore the strategies that can ensure a seamless, comfortable contact lens experience:

  1. Regular Eye Exams: Just as routine check-ups are vital for overall health, regular eye exams play a crucial role in maintaining optimal eye health. These check-ups not only ensure that your contact lens prescription remains current but also provide an opportunity for professionals to detect and address any early signs of eye conditions or diseases, ensuring your vision remains sharp and your eyes healthy.
  2. Proper Lens Care: The longevity and effectiveness of your contact lenses largely depends on how you care for them. Adhering to the manufacturer's cleaning and storage guidelines is crucial. Proper lens care prevents the buildup of proteins and bacteria, reducing the risk of eye infections and ensuring clear vision.
  3. Limit Wear Time: While contact lenses offer unparalleled convenience, it's essential to use them within the recommended time frames. Over-wearing can lead to reduced oxygen supply to the cornea, increasing the risk of complications. Always adhere to the suggested wear duration to ensure eye comfort and health.
  4. Avoid Sleeping in Lenses: The allure of dozing off without removing your lenses can be tempting, but it's a risk not worth taking unless you're using lenses specifically designed for extended wear. Sleeping in standard lenses can hinder oxygen flow to the eyes, potentially leading to infections or other complications.
  5. Stay Hydrated: Hydration plays a pivotal role in overall health, and your eyes are no exception. Drinking adequate water daily ensures that your eyes remain lubricated, reducing the risk of dryness and discomfort, especially for contact lens wearers.
  6. Be Cautious in Challenging Environments: Certain environments can pose challenges for contact lens wearers. Whether it's the dust swirling in the wind or the dryness of an arid climate, such conditions can irritate the eyes. In these scenarios, it might be wise to switch to glasses temporarily, offering your eyes an added layer of protection and reducing the risk of lens-related irritations.

The Bottom Line

Contact lenses are a marvel of modern optometry, but they come with their set of challenges. By understanding potential emergencies and knowing how to address them, you can ensure a smoother, more comfortable lens-wearing experience.

Disclaimer: While this guide offers solutions for common issues, always consult with an eye care professional for persistent problems. Your vision is invaluable, and it's always better to be safe than sorry.

You can always schedule a call with an optometrist through WebEyeCare.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if my contact lens feels stuck or uncomfortable in my eye?

Remember to not panic.

If your contact lens feels stuck or uncomfortable, the first step is to wash your hands thoroughly. Then, try blinking several times to see if the lens repositions itself. If it doesn't, use a lubricating eye drop specifically designed for contact lenses. Gently massage your closed eyelid to help move the lens back into place. If discomfort persists, remove the lens and inspect it for damage or debris.

Are there common reasons why contact lenses get stuck, and how can I prevent it from happening?

Contact lenses can get stuck due to dryness, foreign particles, or misalignment. To prevent this, maintain good lens hygiene, use lubricating eye drops as needed, and avoid sleeping or swimming with your lenses in. Regularly replace your lenses per your eye care professional's recommendations.

How do I safely remove a stuck contact lens without causing damage to my eye?

To safely remove a stuck contact lens, wash your hands thoroughly and ensure they are dry. Use lubricating eye drops to moisten your eye, and then gently and slowly blink several times. If the lens still doesn't move after trying this or the other recommendations listed in this article, consult your eye care professional for guidance rather than attempting to force removal.

What should I do if my eyes become red, irritated, or painful while wearing contact lenses?

If your eyes become red, irritated, or painful while wearing contact lenses, remove them immediately. Clean and disinfect the lenses, and do not reinsert them until your eyes have returned to normal. If symptoms persist, consult your eye care professional.

Are there any home remedies or quick fixes for contact lens discomfort in emergency situations?

In emergency situations, you can use lubricating eye drops designed for contact lenses to alleviate discomfort temporarily. However, this should not replace professional guidance. Avoid using homemade solutions or over-the-counter medications without consulting your eye care provider.

When is it necessary to seek immediate medical attention for contact lens-related eye issues?

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience severe eye pain, sudden vision changes, eye injuries, or if a foreign object becomes trapped under your lens. These situations require prompt evaluation by an eye care professional.

What are some tips for maintaining good contact lens hygiene to prevent emergencies and discomfort?

To maintain good contact lens hygiene, always wash your hands before handling your lenses, follow your eye care professional's recommended cleaning and disinfecting routine, replace your lenses as instructed, and never sleep or swim while wearing them. Regular eye exams are also crucial for monitoring your eye health and lens fit.

Alaesha Gaedke
Alaesha Gaedke

Alaesha Gaedke holds a M.B.A. from Franklin University Switzerland, and a B.A. in Public Relations from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. With her passion for the MedTech industry, her work explores the complexities of medical device technology; bridging the gap between the science behind Medical Devices and the audience for which they're designed for. Her work has been published in regulatory marketing material across Europe and the U.S.

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