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Don’t Panic! Here’s What to Do When You Have a Ripped Contact Lens

woman at fair with hands up, shrugging her shoulders

Whether you're brand new to wearing contact lenses or a seasoned pro, accidents can happen. No matter how careful you are, chances are, you’ll accidentally rip a contact lens at some point in your life.

Do you currently have a ripped contact lens on your hands? Or perhaps you want to prepare for a worst-case scenario? Either way, you might be wondering what to do next.

Can you still wear your contact even after it's ripped? We've got this question covered, plus more. Read on to learn how you can handle this type of situation.

Can You Wear Ripped Contact Lenses?

If you only remember one thing from this article, make it this: never, ever, ever wear a torn contact lens. It doesn't matter if it feels fine in your eye. You need to take the contact out and throw it away pronto!

Risks of Wearing Ripped Lenses

Torn contacts will not function as well as intact ones. This is because ripping prevents the lens from maintaining the specific curvature needed to match your eye. As a result, it will not have a good fit.

Ripped lenses are also less likely to stay centred on your eye. If they move away from the middle of the eye or move around too much, you'll end up with blurred vision.

Most importantly, a torn contact lens is dangerous. It’ll have a jagged edge that could scratch your cornea, the front surface of your eye. Not only that, but it could also get trapped beneath your eyelid. You'll likely find this irritating and very difficult to deal with. Just take it out and trash it.

What to Do if Your Contact Lens Rips

lightbulb solution on chalkboard

Clearly, wearing ripped contact lenses is a bad idea. So, what are you supposed to do? If your contact rips, you should throw it away and put in a new one. Check the new lens first to make sure it doesn't have any rips or jagged edges.

If your contact lens tears after you've put it in, carefully take it out and throw it away as soon as you realize it's torn. If you don't have an extra lens on hand, wear your backup glasses until you can get new contacts.

What if the Lens Stays in Your Eye?

Sometimes, when your contact rips, a piece of it can get left behind in your eye after you've removed the lens. Trying to remove the lost bit of plastic can lead to irritation. But it's even more irritating to leave it in.

Try to locate the torn piece, then use your fingertip to slide it toward the outer corner of your eye so you can pull it out. It may help to put some eye drops in to lubricate the piece, and then blink to dislodge it.

If you can't find the piece but you feel it, call your eye doctor and get in to see them as soon as possible. If that’s not fast enough go to a walk in clinic or urgent care centre. A doctor will use a slit lamp to locate the torn piece. He or she can also put in a special coloured dye that helps locate and remove it.

How to Prevent Future Rips

Once you've dealt with one ripped contact lens, you'll want to do everything you can to avoid dealing with one again. Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to reduce the likelihood of ripping a contact lens. Here are some specific steps you can take:

Inspect Your Lenses First

finger with ripped contact

Always inspect your contact lenses before putting them in your eyes. Give them a once over (while wearing your glasses if necessary) to check for rips, chips or jagged edges. If you see any issues, throw the lens away and start over with a new one. It's good to have a backup supply on hand in case something like this happens.

It's a smart idea to contact the manufacturer if most of your new lenses have damage. You can also try and switch up the contacts brand. Talking to your doctor can point you in the right direction.

Clean Them Properly

Make sure you're cleaning your contact lenses according to their instructions. Keep them moist and make sure your lens case is always full of contact solution. If you don't do this, they'll dry out and become more prone to tearing.

Remember to be gentle when handling your contact lens. You can rub them gently to get rid of deposits. But if you rub too vigorously, you could end up ripping them.

Unfold Them in Your Contact Solution

tweezers and contact lens in contact solution

Sometimes, your contact lenses accidentally fold over when you take them out. If this happens, put the lens back in the contact solution before you unfold it. This will help you unstick it more easily, and you'll be less likely to tear it in the process.

Avoid Taking Contacts Out of Dry Eyes

Allergies, excessive screen time or dry weather conditions can cause your eyes to dry out. When this happens, your contact lenses can dry out too. This makes them more prone to ripping. If your eyes feel dry, use a few drops of rewetting solution on the lenses and your eyes before taking them out.

Don't Rub Your Eyes While Wearing Contacts

Rubbing your eyes while wearing contact lenses increases your chances of ripping them. It also makes you more susceptible to corneal abrasions. If your eyes feel itchy and you have to rub your eyes, take your contacts out first.

Keep Your Fingernails Neat and Trimmed

Finally, know that long or jagged fingernails can easily rip the delicate material of your contacts. Keep your nails neat and trimmed to reduce the risk of tearing them. When you remove your contacts, be sure to use the pads of your thumb and index finger rather than your fingernails.

Do You Need to Replenish Your Contact Lens Supply?

Do you need to replace ripped contact lenses or just replenish your supply? Check out the brands we carry and what’s on sale. Or do you just want to learn more about contact lenses and your eyes? Read up on more tips and tricks about caring for your contacts.

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