Contact Lens Issue - Son Not Sure If One Is in or Not (Seriously!)

Updated on July 06, 2019
J.B. asks from Boston, MA
10 answers

The short version is...can you tell by looking at an eye whether or not a contact lens is in there? What am I looking for? of my kids is new to contacts and naturally, the eye doctor is closed tomorrow for the holiday. Yesterday (Tuesday night) he went to take his contacts out. Right eye, fine. Left eye, not fine. Lens was not coming out. He then said "it might not have gone in in the morning. I had a hard time and I might have dropped it before it went in. I don't know if it's there or not." I should note that his prescription is very weak and the primary reason for corrective lenses is astigmatism. He can see fine on his own, but gets headaches, so it's not obvious by his vision whether or not he's wearing lenses. So with his right lens definitely out, he closed one eye and then the other to see if his vision was the same on both eyes (both eyes have same prescription). It was the same. He then put on his glasses to test his vision and all seemed well, so we chalked it up to no lens in the left eye to remove and called it a night.

Tonight...same thing. Right eye out, left eye very painful when trying to remove. He was then worried that it was so painful because maybe he really did have a left lens in yesterday and now had two in. He worked on this for hours, using a remoisture solution to lubricate the eye, massage his eyelid, and try to loosen the lens. After hours of this, he then said "I actually can't feel a lens at all and I'm not sure if I dropped it when I was putting it in this morning." Argh, really? So I had him pry his eye lids open so that I could look and see if he is even wearing a lens. I don't wear contacts so I have no idea what I'm looking for, but both eyes look the same (other than the left one being obviously irritated from the poking and prodding). I then used a flashlight to see if I could see any difference and I don't.

If the eye doctor was open tomorrow I'd of course take him in for them to have a look but I can't get him in until Friday. He will definitely not be wearing any contacts until we straighten this out (and is so frustrated by them that I think it will be a while before he tries again). I'll call the doc on call at his pediatrician's office tomorrow to see what they see as well.

In the meantime, any thoughts on what to do? If you wear contacts, do you definitely know when you have one in? Is there something you can feel, or something that looks different to someone looking at your eyes (obviously your own vision looking out would be different or you wouldn't wear them). I obviously don't want him to keep attacking his eyeball if there isn't a lens in there, but don't want him leaving a disposable lens (or two) in for days either.


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answers from Denver on

I have had contacts before and it is a pain if you don't know if a contact is in or not. Here are some pieces of advice. The contact might have moved places. Does he feel like something is scratching his eyelids? It also might have fallen out. How is his vision compared to his right eye? If it really is still in there, if you look carefully, you should beable to see the outline of the contact.
~A. J.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I'm in my late thirties and have been wearing contacts since I was 12 (just so you know credentials!). If the lens is where it's supposed to be, you should be able to see an outline of it just outside the iris.

Sometimes the lens can move to the white part of the eye -- above, below, or the side, usually above or below. Have him place his finger right below the bone above his lid and slide it down the eye with gentle pressure (if you think it's stuck above) to bring it down to the center over the iris. If that doesn't do it, try the same from the bottom and also the sides. Sometimes the lens can get stuck waayy up there or way below -- you won't be able to see it even if you lifted the lid or pulled the under eye skin down.

If it's stuck in his eye, rolling his eyes around, blinking really hard, massaging, and/or rubbing his eye (or any combination of these) might also work.

On a side note, the lens can fold in half when it moves around the eye. Also, if it's stuck way above or below, he likely won't be able to feel it. I usually don't.

If he's tried everything, but it still hasn't popped up, it might not be in his eye.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

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answers from New York on

I love my disposable lenses. Started them during my senior year in high school, I think. But they can be tricky at times.

If a lens is in, you can see the lens if you look closely at his eye - use a magnifying glass instead of a flashlight. You would be able to see the edge of the lens, a slight discoloration against the white of his eye, similar to if you tilt a glass of wine and look at the edge of the liquid in your glass.

(NOTE: please look at them closely after this all gets sorted out, so that you will know what to look for if this happens again!)

In my experience, a feeling of soreness/irritation can be caused if a lens slides up under the eyelid - which happens - but then it usually (in my experience) either folds up into itself and falls out or slides down.

(And, as you said, soreness/irritation can result from poking and rubbing the eye, of course, even with no lens in it.)

But basically, in my experience, a lens cannot "survive" for very long if it is out of position, it will fall out eventually.

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answers from Portland on

I have worn since puberty and it definitely takes some getting used to. Back then, they were REALLY thick and much easier to tell if they were in. Sometimes they would fold over, and you could actually see them up at the crease, and they would kind of sproing out at you .. that was a problem. They'd move around quite a lot until you got used to them.

Now that they are thin, it's hard.

So if you're looking .. here's what you do. You just have him look straight ahead, and move his eyeball left to right - not his head. You should be able (in natural bright light) to see the edge as it moves across his pupil.

I can't feel mine until around suppertime when they dry out (as you age) and then I have to take them out because they feel like sandpaper. But that's an age/dryness thing.

So he may not feel them at all - that's kind of the desired effect.

The other thing that may have happened is .. they can potentially get caught up around the corner of an eye. I don't think they can get behind an eyeball - at least not in my many years (I'm in my 50's) of wearing them since puberty. I have slept in them .. everything and the most mine have done, is sort of wriggled up to the corner and flipped around ...

That's very rare. Usually just if you really rub, or they dry out or you sleep in them.

Can he not look in his case to see if he put it in? I would suggest he have some system where once he puts it in, he flips his case over, or does something .. just so he knows he has done it, until he gets used to it. Like when one goes in, do this so you are sure ... then the next one ...

It DOES take a lot of getting used to - even adults find this very daunting. Everyone has to go in for an extra visit or so when starting out. Don't worry about it - this is kinda normal.

The thing to remember is, if he has left one in there, over time it WILL dry out and just kind of pop out on it's own - he'll feel it, rub his eye and it will suddenly feel squishy and kind of appear. It's not like it will just stay in there. Or if you did have two in there, same kind of thing would happen - one would dislodge the other, and one would pop out in the corner. You can't really screw it up.

I would avoid over rubbing etc - and I think leaving for now is best idea :)

** Added - they are really stick-to-your-eyes when fresh out of box, after a while they loose that suction quality, and are much easier to tell if in your eyes if that helps.

Also, you may be able to get them tinted (not so you can see color, or notice it). I'm not positive about that but I had some that were slightly blue for a while (it was a brand). You couldn't tell once in eye, but so much easier for handling. Maybe ask?

Good luck - he'll be an expert in no time. It becomes second nature very quickly

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answers from Miami on

JB, update us on what ended up happening. Did he go get his eye looked at? Was there a contact in there or not?

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answers from Abilene on

My prescription is pretty significant (coke bottle glasses) and I’m 56 and started wearing hard contacts when I was 12.

Soft lenses are sometimes hard to determine what’s going on. Having your son look straight ahead and you moving to his side you should see the outline of the lens over his iris. If they’re colored lenses that’s even easier.

I would recommend using saline solution (not cleaning) and irrigating his eye. What it sounds like to me is the lens isn’t in there but in all the searching he has irritated his eye.

I use saline on my kids when they feel like they have something on their eye. You can buy it at any store that sells contact lens supplies, but you are looking for just saline. I buy mine at Walmart.

Have your son lay on the opposite side of the irritated eye. Fold a towel underneath his head. Then put the saline solution toward the corner of his eye and bathe the eye. This will allow the saline to go from one corner to the other across his eye.

Repeat several times a day. Especially before he goes to bed. I would have him stop using lenses until this eye heals. He may have accidentally scratched his eye trying to remove his lenses.

It is imperative to wash hands thoroughly before putting lenses in or taking them out. The eye heals amazingly quickly so in a couple of days, he will more than likely be fine.

They also make a tool that is a suction cup looking thing that helps novice lens wearers get the hang of it. You might ask your eye doctor if he recommends that or not. I would also have him sit at the table with a folded towel to take his lenses in and out until he’s more proficient. If you look at a optometrist’s office, they always have the patient sitting down at a desk to put lenses in.

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answers from San Diego on

He could have a corneal abrasion or the eye could get infected quick and he could lose his eyesight with the lens stuck or in the eye. I wore contacts since 12, had 2 eye surgeries.
See an ophthalmologist ASAP.

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answers from Miami on

Not always. I had a contact stuck in my upper eyelid once and it took over an hour for me to remove. I knew it was in there as I saw it get stuck when trying to remove it. I kept rubbing my eyelid, pushing down, and trying to look down to get it out and nothing. To make matters worse, it was folded and stuck, so that made it even harder to pull down. I could never see it, just felt it. I put drops over and over and finally, over an hour later and with a red eye irritated from my multiple attempts at removal, it finally came out. I had to wear glasses the next few days to let my eye heal. I have friends who had contacts stuck in their eyes and ended up with infections, but a few other people were able to get away with sleeping in contacts without issues. If I fell asleep for a quick 1 hour nap, I'd wake up with bloodshot eyes. That was part of my deciding factor in getting Lasik and being done with the pain in the butt that are contact lenses. I would go to the ophthalmologist to be on the safe side, so they can confirm whether or not he has a contact in his eye. This might explain why it's better to be safe than sorry:

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I missed this earlier in the week - I hope you got to them on Friday. What was the verdict?

Something you might do now - have him put his right contact in, then look and find the edge of it (usually you can see a slight line/distortion along the edge). Once you know what you are looking for, then find it in the left eye. In the future if you don't see it right away, make sure that you lift his upper eyelid as much as you can, as well as his lower lid. Contacts can slide around and get kind-of stuck under eyelids, especially if eyes are dry. Have him do it too so that he knows what to look for in case it happens again.

One more tip: you might talk to the eye doctor about colored contacts for his next batch. I always had one that were very lightly tinted blue. It was not enough to change my eye color (they were not considered cosmetically tinted). It was just enough that I could see them more easily (good when they are dropped as well as for finding them in the eye).


answers from Tampa on

I used to work for an ophthalmologist. And your sons condition can be corrected with glasses. Be really careful with lenses. Few years back there was a bacteria in the solution and few people went blind using it. Kids forget to take it out, lose it or just put it in with dirty hands. Plus few scratched corneas-pain unbelievable!

Even both of my drs proffered glasses themselves, they especially recommend glasses to kids. Assuming your son is under 16 or so.

With that said.. usually in drs office offers a bit of a teaching session ( we did) an assistant would sit down and teach the basics. In/out, cleaning etc.

You can tell when a lease is in by staring at the eye at close range and asking your son to move his eye .. lenses are see through but you can still tell a clear ring around the iris. Not moving it fast but one time and you see the “clear ring follows”.

Since it’s Saturday-I hope all went well!

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