Can I wear a torn contact lens?

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The short answer to this question is “no.” Once a contact lens tears or rips, it is no longer safe to continue wearing. The jagged edges along the tear can scratch your eyes, potentially putting you at risk for infection. A torn contact lens is also more likely to pop out, shift out of place, or get stuck in your eye.

Do you have a torn contact lens you’re wondering if you can reuse? Do you want to be prepared for when you have to deal with one in the future? If you answered “yes” to either question, this article is for you. Read on to learn more about torn contacts, what you should do with them, and how you can avoid them in the future.

Why do contact lenses tear?

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Soft contact lenses currently comprise around 87 percent of all contact lenses used worldwide. This isn’t surprising, as soft contact lenses are immensely more comfortable for most users than hard contact lenses. But with this superior comfort comes extreme fragility.

Soft contact lenses are made of thin, flexible materials that allow oxygen to reach the eye. Unfortunately, these materials are susceptible to tears and rips and may even flip inside-out.

What does a torn contact lens feel like?

Generally speaking, a torn contact lens will feel like something is in your eye. Depending on the severity of the tear, it can be an uncomfortable or painful sensation. Moreover, a torn contact lens won’t remain centered on your eye. You may experience blurry vision, and the lens may get trapped under your eyelid.

What should I do if my contact lens tears or rips?

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If your contact lens tears after you have put it in, it’s imperative that you remove it immediately. Start by washing your hands with mild soap and water, then dry them with a lint-free towel. You may then moisten your eye with rewetting drops to make removal easier. Using a finger, gently slide the torn lens piece to the outside corner of your eye until you can easily remove it.

When you try to remove a torn contact lens, there is a chance that pieces of it might move under your eyelid. In this case, you can use artificial tears to try to flush the pieces out of your eye. If you can’t find the piece or pieces, don’t worry. A contact lens can’t get lost behind your eye due to the structure of the eye. If this happens to you, just look straight into a mirror and tilt your head back slightly. Lift your top eyelid as far up as possible and check for any lens pieces.

If you’re worried that you couldn’t remove all the pieces of your torn contact lens, visit your eye care professional (ECP). Seek medical help immediately if your eyes have become red or irritated or if you think you accidentally scratched your eye.

How can I avoid tearing my contacts?

A torn or ripped contact lens is frustrating. Here’s what you can do to avoid accidentally tearing your contact lenses:

  • Keep contact lenses moist – A dry contact lens is more likely to tear or rip. To keep your contact lenses moist, always store them in fresh solution. If your contact lenses become dry in your eyes, apply rewetting drops before removing them.
  • Be gentle – You don’t have to vigorously rub your contact lenses to clean them. Instead, gently massage them in fresh contact lens solution until they are clean.
  • Handle contact lenses with clean hands – Always wash and dry your hands before handling your contact lenses.
  • Trim your fingernails – Keep your fingernails neat and trimmed to avoid accidental snags.
  • Don’t overuse your contact lenses – Old and overworn contact lenses are much more likely to tear. Be sure to replace your contact lenses as recommended by your ECP or the manufacturer.

Conclusion

It is never safe to wear a torn contact lens, and it is impossible to fix one. If your contact lens tears or rips, throw it away and use a fresh piece. Check that the new lens has no rips, jagged edges, or debris before putting it in. If you find that you tear your contact lenses frequently, try to handle them with extra care and make sure your fingernails are snag-free and short. You should also replace your contact lenses according to the manufacturer’s instructions or your ECP’s advice.