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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 45 million people wear contact lenses in the United States.

Although contact lenses often take the place of glasses, both forms of vision correction have different styles of wear and care.

Contact lens etiquette can feel overwhelming at first. But knowing how to safely insert and remove your lenses will become second nature with enough practice.

In this article, we provide step-by-step instructions for how to take out both soft and hard contact lenses, as well as how to handle any potential complications from contact lens use.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, there are two types of contact lenses that are commonly prescribed for vision correction:

  • Hard lenses. These are more rigid and sometimes prescribed for extended wear.
  • Soft lenses. These are softer and more comfortable. They include daily and extended wear, toric, colored, and cosmetic contacts

Below, you’ll find step-by-step instructions for how to remove both soft and hard contact lenses.

How to remove soft lenses

How to remove hard lenses

Sometimes a contact lens can get stuck in your eye, causing discomfort or even pain. If this happens, don’t panic, as there are a few simple tricks you can try to dislodge the lens.

If you’re still unable to remove the contact lens by yourself, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor. They can perform an eye exam to determine where the lens is stuck and remove it safely.

It can take time to learn how to take out your contact lenses. If you’ve tried the methods listed above and are still having trouble, there’s another option you can consider.

Use a contact lens remover for hard contact lenses

Although this is not the preferred method of contact lens removal, a contact lens remover, called a “plunger” can be used when you’re not comfortable using your fingers to remove a hard contact lens. Here are instructions for this removal method.

Also, if you’re new to wearing contact lenses, here are some tips from the CDC that will help you take care of your lenses properly.

  • Keep your contact lens prescription up-to-date, and make sure that you aren’t using lenses that are expired.
  • Don’t reuse disposable lenses or use lenses longer than prescribed, as this can cause an increased risk of infection.
  • Keep your contact lens cases clean to prevent dirt and bacteria from mingling with your clean lenses. Replace your case every 3 months.
  • Don’t swim or shower in contact lenses, as the water can damage the integrity of your lenses.
  • Don’t sleep in your contact lenses, as this can potentially lead to an increased risk of eye infections or other complications, according to a 2018 case report.

If you have any other major questions or concerns about contact lens insertion, removal, or safety, you can reach out to your eye doctor for help.

It’s important to practice caution when inserting and removing contact lenses, to avoid damaging your eyes. Here are some precautions to be aware of when taking out contact lenses:

  • Don’t pinch too hard. Although pinching the contact lens is one of the easiest ways to remove soft lenses, you risk tearing the lens if you pinch too hard.
  • Be careful near your cornea. Eyes are extremely sensitive, especially to touching, poking, or scratching. When removing your lenses, try to avoid touching your actual eye.
  • Mind your long nails. If you have long nails, you should be extra careful when removing your lenses to avoid scratching the lens or your eye.
  • Always wash your hands. Bacteria can easily find its way to your eye from a dirty finger, which is why it’s crucial to clean your hands before removing or inserting contact lenses.

The most important thing is to just be as gentle as possible around your eyes when you’re putting in and taking out contact lenses.

Contact lenses are a safe, popular alternative to glasses, especially when you practice good contact lens hygiene. However, you should schedule a visit with your eye doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • eye pain
  • light sensitivity
  • blurred vision
  • eye discharge

These symptoms may indicate an infection, damage to your cornea, or something else that requires medical attention.

When you’re new to wearing contact lenses, removing your lenses properly can take some getting used to.

There are multiple ways to remove both soft and hard contact lenses, depending on your preference. Always practice good hygiene when you remove your lenses to keep your eyes, and your lenses safe.

If you want to learn more about how to safely insert contact lenses, you can check out our guide here.