At some point in your life as a contact lens wearer, you may have experienced the frustration of dropping a contact lens on the floor.
It’s a common mishap, but don’t worry — we’re here to help.
In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the steps to take if you accidentally drop your contact lens, and provide some tips on how to prevent it from happening again.
1. Keep Calm and Assess the Situation
When you panic, logical thinking goes out the window, so take a deep breath and assess the situation.
Did you see where your contact lens landed? If so, you’re in luck — you can pick it up immediately. If you can’t, you’ll need to be cautious as you look for it.
Keep in mind that you should throw away dropped daily disposable contact lenses. Dailies are very thin because they’re meant for single use. They’re not designed to be cleaned or soaked like bi-weekly or monthly disposable lenses, and doing so can break down the lens and increase the risk of the lens falling apart during use.
2. Find the Contact Lens
If you’re unsure where your contact lens landed, stay put and start searching immediately (remove your shoes if necessary). Contacts dry out when exposed to air, so it’s important to act quickly.
Crouch down and carefully sweep your hands across the floor. Even if you can’t see the contact lens, you should be able to feel it.
If your initial search is fruitless, try either of these methods:
- The Flashlight Method. Turn off the lights, then try shining a flashlight at a low angle. This can help make the contact lens more visible by casting a shadow. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for any small objects reflecting light.
- The Vacuum Method. Wrap a clean nylon sock or pantyhose around the nozzle of your vacuum. Slowly move the nozzle over your search area, stopping every now and then to check whether your contact lens is stuck to the nylon.
3. Clean the Contact Lens
You found the lens! Now what?
Follow these steps to make the lens safe for use again:
- Wash your hands with soap and water. This ensures that no oils, dirt, or debris from your hands contaminate the lens.
- Check the lens for tears or rips. Place the lens in the palm of your hand under a bright light to check for any tears or rips. The jagged edges along a tear can scratch your cornea and put you at risk for infection. A torn lens is also more likely to pop out, move around, and get stuck in your eye. If your contact lens is torn, it’s best to throw it away and use a new one.
- Clean and disinfect your contact lens. If your lens survived the ordeal, place it in the palm of your hand and apply a few drops of contact lens cleaning solution. Gently rub the lens for 15-20 seconds, then rinse it with more solution. Note that some lens cleaning solutions will only fully disinfect the lens after a couple of hours, so be sure to check your solution instructions. Do not clean the lens with tap water or saliva.
4. Reinsert the Contact Lens
Once you’ve inspected and cleaned your contact lens, you can reinsert it into your eye.
5. Prevent Future Mishaps
You wouldn’t want to go through this whole ordeal on a regular basis. Follow these tips to avoid dropping your lens in the future:
- Clear the area. Only insert or remove your contact lenses over a well-lit and uncluttered area. Something like a bathroom counter works well, as long as you’ve cleared away any soaps, cosmetics, and similar objects.
- Take your time. You’re likely to drop your contact lens if you rush, so take it slow and focus on what you’re doing.
- Use a contact lens applicator. If you generally have trouble inserting or removing your contact lenses, talk to your eye doctor. They may recommend contact lens applicators to make the process easier.
- Don’t rub your eyes. Rubbing your eyes when wearing contacts can cause them to shift out of place or pop out. Rubbing can also lead to a corneal abrasion, which may lead to vision impairment.
- Keep a spare pair. If you dropped a daily disposable contact lens or found your dropped lens already damaged, it’s best to use a new lens.
Dropping a contact lens on the floor can be a frustrating experience, but with the right steps, you can quickly and safely recover from the situation.
Remember to stay calm, find your lens, clean it thoroughly, and reinsert it carefully. By following these steps and taking preventive measures, you can protect your eyes and ensure a comfortable contact lens-wearing experience.