Soft contacts: tools of the devil.
November 29, 2011 4:02 PM   Subscribe

There must be a trick to wearing and removing soft contacts that I have not discovered. Please share it. Snowflake detail: I've been wearing hard contacts since I was twelve.

I have worn hard contacts since I was in seventh grade. Yes, they're continuously, mildly painful, and occasionally EXTRAORDINARILY painful when the smallest speck of dust/debris/your own eyelash falls into your eye and sends jabbing hot pokers of pain through your eye.

But they are extremely easy to care for, and extremely easy to remove. They're also damned inconvenient when you live in a dusty place like I work in.

So, a doctor convinced me recently to switch to soft contacts, which until recently could not correct my major astigmatism. Okay, so the vision they offer is not quite as clear as the hard contacts. And okay, so they feel like someone has wrapped my eye in a suffocating layer of saran wrap, my eyes are so fucking dry (I'm talking rewetting drops every five minutes). All of this is okay. What really bothers me is GETTING THEM OUT OF MY EYE.

I have worn contacts since I was twelve. I do not have a problem with touching my eyes. But whatever I am supposed to do to remove these things -- I have watched countless youtube videos, and it does not work. After over a MONTH of wearing these things it still takes me over 15 minutes each night (AND EACH EYE) to get them out, and usually it only happens after I have a) gouged my cornea, b) out of desperation, finally do something "wrong" like scraping the bottom edge of the lens OFF my cornea with my thumbnail.

The whole "pinch it off" thing DOES NOT WORK. I mean, what does this even mean? Am i supposed to pinch the edges up from the eyeball? If I do that I scratch my cornea, so I don't think that can be right. Instead I try to pinch the surface of the contact itself. That does NOT work.

So. Soft contact wearers. Is this a sign that I should try a different brand of soft contact? Or is it a sign that soft contacts in general do not work for me? I really wanted to escape the predictable low-level, and occasionally agonizing pain of wearing hard contacts. But if that's what it'll take not to need to regularly scratch and pinch at my cornea, I'll go back to them, I guess.
posted by artemisia to Health & Fitness (60 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Pinch right in the middle, like you were folding the lens in half between your thumb and forefinger. Yes, while it's still in your eye. Don't worry, you won't pinch your eye.

Also, get the ones that you only need to do it once a week or even less frequently.
posted by kindall at 4:05 PM on November 29, 2011

Instead I try to pinch the surface of the contact itself. That does NOT work.

As your thumb and forefinger get traction on the surface of the contact, pinch and pull outwards. It can take me a couple tries if my eyes are dry and the contact is sticking to my cornea. If that happens to you more frequently, maybe get drops that help rewet the lens, before attempting removal.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:06 PM on November 29, 2011

Make sure the fingers you're using to take the contact out are pretty dry. If they're wet they won't be able to get a grip. You might already know this.
posted by auto-correct at 4:08 PM on November 29, 2011

yes, rewet the lens, but make sure your fingers are dry enough. they don't have to perfectly free of water, but the tips of your thumb and forefinger should be dry enough to gain purchase on the (wet) surface of the lens.
posted by ilk at 4:08 PM on November 29, 2011

What I do is hold my eye open with my thumb and finger from one hand while looking up. Then I use my index finger from my other hand and touch the top of my eyeball and drag my finger down, all the while keeping my eye looking up. Once my finger is at the bottom of my eye, the contact comes out pretty easily, just make sure you keep your eye looking up.
Then again, you've probably tried this way already.
posted by costanza at 4:08 PM on November 29, 2011

Also, get the ones that you only need to do it once a week or even less frequently.

I'd advise thinking carefully about these, as corneal infections are no joke, and you run a greater risk of infection with extended-wear lenses.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:08 PM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

I take out my contacts out by looking up and pinching the bottom section of the contact (i.e., the part that's covering the bottom of your iris) between my thumb and forefinger, and gently lifting in a sort of up-and-out direction.
posted by scody at 4:08 PM on November 29, 2011

I find that looking to a corner (so that the lens has less distance to travel) then putting my finger right on the middle of the contact and looking quickly in the other direction while applying pressure to the contact usually gets the contact out.

I, too, had a learning curve with soft contacts. There was much crying before I figured this out. I've also discovered that contacts need to go in or come out BEFORE I brush my teeth. The tiniest essence of mint in your eye really hurts.
posted by chatongriffes at 4:08 PM on November 29, 2011

This is what I do with my 2-week Acuvue Oaysis soft contacts:
1. I make sure my eyes are dry, dry, dry. Extra dry if I've just put in a new pair because it's hard to get them out because they haven't built up any gunk on them. I dry out my eye by holding it open and waving air into it (which doesn't make me look weird at all, let me tell you). When my eye feels sufficiently dry, I:

2. Take my pointer finger, put it lightly in the middle of the contact and drag the contact to the outside corner of my eye. Keeping my pointer on the contact, I reach up with my thumb and pinch with the thumb while holding the contact steady with my pointer. The contact flips up and I'm able to take them out.

Really making sure my eyes are dry when I do this the trick. Trying the pinch trick when my eyes are even a little wet results in (nearly literally) clawing my eyes out.

Good luck! I know how frustrating learning new contact can be.
posted by Laura Macbeth at 4:09 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Okay, I am going to try each and every of these methods, though - my God, it is so complicated compared to hard contacts!!

How long did it take all of you to learn to remove these without effort or stress?
posted by artemisia at 4:10 PM on November 29, 2011

First I kind of push it to the side to sort of dislodge it away from my iris because it nestles in there and gets itself all comfortably shrinkwrapped to my eye. Pushing it to the side seems to break some kind of suction. This step is especially important if my eyes are dry or if I've slept in them (bad idea). And then I pinch.
posted by geegollygosh at 4:11 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

So I just had to actually do this because I don't know what I do, it's completely a muscle-memory thing for me, I guarantee you'll get there too. And I doubt switching brands will help, I've had several brands over many years and they all work more or less the same.

What I do is look up while pulling my lower lid down and bringing my thumb and forefinger to the lower, outer edge of the lens. Then I press in and together a little, yes it's kind of like a pinch. And like others have said: wet lens, dry fingers.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:13 PM on November 29, 2011

This may sound ridiculously simplistic, but I can't fathom pinching with my thumb and forefinger, and instead pinch with my thumb and middle finger. Thumb and index finger just doesn't give me near the right angle.

There's also the ever-so-slightest pulling away from your eye as you are pinching so that you aren't pinching your eye, but rather pulling the contact away.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 4:14 PM on November 29, 2011

I get the "push it away from the iris to break suction" part but I don't get the pinching thing, I guess. Are you pressing the tips of your fingers INTO your eyeball? How else do you get traction? Should I be exerting pressure onto my eye and then bringing my fingers together? I certainly can't get traction on the lens itself without doing that...

And here's the other thing: I cannot SEE what I am doing once I hit the second contact. I am so profoundly nearsighted that if my right eye still has a contact in it, the left eye (stripped of contact) is now able to focus on the right eye and see everything, which causes the right eye to drift all the way to the right. (Does any really near-sighted person know what I mean, here?) So I have to do it mostly by feel, which is even more irritating.

Argh. Argh. ARGH.
posted by artemisia at 4:14 PM on November 29, 2011

i've been wearing soft contacts since i was 12. i'm now in my late 30s. i can remove them blind, so to speak. or at least with one hand. as others have said above, the contacts need to be wet and your fingers need to be dry. if your contact is dry and sticking to your eye, you're not going to be able to pinch at the lens because it will feel like it's sealed to your eyeball. i usually pull my bottom lid down with my fourth finger, look up, and with my index and thumb pinch the central surface of the lens and pull out. if you want to make sure it's wet enough, you can just put your finger on the lens and move it your eye a bit; then pinch it out.
posted by violetk at 4:14 PM on November 29, 2011

The thumb+index thing never worked very well for me. It felt like I was scratching and clawing at my eye.

Instead, I hold my the top eyelid open with the middle finger of the "non-removing" hand, then hold the bottom lid down with the ring finger of the removing hand.

Then, use the index and middle fingers of the removing hand to take out the contact. Like, make a little V-symbol with the fingertips straight up, place both fingers on the surface of the lense, and squeeze the 2 fingers together, like scissors. That's what works for me.

It took me about 1-2 weeks to figure this out. Good luck, I hope you find a method that works for you! :)
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 4:17 PM on November 29, 2011

…I don't get the pinching thing, I guess. Are you pressing the tips of your fingers INTO your eyeball? How else do you get traction?

your dry fingers should give you traction.
posted by violetk at 4:18 PM on November 29, 2011

I also wore hard lenses for years and had a difficult time adjusting to the soft ones. Figuring out how to take them out was a giant pain until I got a technique down. Basically I do use my thumbnail, but I use it as a sort of stopper while I slide the lens towards it with my index finger. I don't think I actually put the nail between lens and eye, but I do know if my nail is cut too short I have a hard time getting the lenses out. I don't think of it as a pinching action, but maybe it is.

Make sure your hands are clean and dry. Prop upper eyelid open with one middle finger (that hand palm rests on my forehead while doing this) and lower eyelid open with the other. Use index finger of whichever hand the contact is on to touch the center of the lens and slide it outwards from center of eye. Side of thumbnail very very gently goes to edge of lens and the lens then folds up in between index finger and thumbnail.
posted by wondermouse at 4:18 PM on November 29, 2011

I just got new soft contacts and I can't stand them because they are so hard to remove!

Exactly like removing saran wrap and I did scratch my cornea already. Eye dr said make sure you pinch them off on the white part of your eye because it causes less damage if you scratch it there. I am going back to my 'older' type of soft contacts next because the new ones are just too thin.

(This relates to your question because as far I as I have experienced, not all soft contacts are the same thickness and some are much harder than others to get out. Definitely talk to your eye doctor about this next time you go back.).
posted by bquarters at 4:18 PM on November 29, 2011

I've been wearing soft contacts forever (okay, 10+ years) and recently switched brands to a "thinner" soft contact that supposedly lets in a lot more air. Compared to my last set of soft lenses, my eyes feel consistently drier in these and I've found it's much, much, much harder to take them out. (In my old pair, I just kind of touched the lens and pulled it to the side of my eye and it popped out.) Dry eyes plus very thin and dry contacts means you end up with lenses that kind of glue to your eye and don't have the stiffness to pop out easily.

So: if you're feeling like your eyes are really dry all the time AND having a hard time pulling them out, it's probably a sign that your lenses aren't wet enough to come out easily. In the short term, try using re-wetting drops 30 seconds before you pull them out. In the longer term, talk to your ophthamologist about sampling a different brand of lens if at all possible.
posted by iminurmefi at 4:19 PM on November 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

Your eye might be too dry to remove the contact, especially if you're having to use rewetting drops that frequently. I actually disagree with the answerer above who suggests dry eyes-- all of my painful contact-removal incidents happened with dry eyes. I find if I am having trouble dumping a bunch of saline in helps get em out.

It is possible to learn, though-- my mom had to learn how to put in and remove soft lenses a year ago (she was in her late 50s) after a lifetime of hard lenses. You can do this, but it might take quite a while (I believe for her it was longer than a month, but she was also recovering from surgery at the time). I never wore hard lenses and it was still almost a month before I spent less than an hour/day on the whole contact thing when I first got them.

Some hints:

1) NEVER take a shower before you remove your lenses. I'm not sure why but it feels like they are glued on. It makes getting them out much worse.
2) Keep control of your allergies if you have any.
3) Similarly find a sustainable dry-eye solution. rewetting drops might not be working for you; if I were using mine that frequently I'd actually be pretty concerned that I wasn't producing enough natural moisture. Might be worth asking your eye doc about other methods of rewetting.
4) clean hands, with no funny liquids (no recent touching of anything spicy/minty/whatever).
5) The thickness of the lens can change your technique; ones meant to be worn for months are thicker than the daily replaceables. You could again ask the doc if maybe another thickness might make your life easier.

Also, yeah, I do this single-handed, no mirror, in some tiny amount of time--- but it took me 20 years to get there. (Ok, maybe it took 5, but it certainly wasn't overnight.)
posted by nat at 4:20 PM on November 29, 2011

I get the "push it away from the iris to break suction" part but I don't get the pinching thing, I guess. Are you pressing the tips of your fingers INTO your eyeball? How else do you get traction? Should I be exerting pressure onto my eye and then bringing my fingers together? I certainly can't get traction on the lens itself without doing that...

You don't need to put much pressure on your eye, if at all. Would it help to think of it less as pinching and more like rolling your fingertips together? Try this: with your right hand, extend the thumb and middle finger and make them almost touch. Then, moving them closer, sort of roll the pad of your middle finger as it touches your thumb.

I use the back of my thumbnail to pull down my lower eyelid, then do the rolling thing with my middle finger. The middle finger first touches the contact, and then drags down the contact as you roll. The contact is thus trapped between the two fingers and you can pinch it at that point. As others have said, that "pinch" is more of a squeeze, and you kind of pull the contact away from your eye as you do it. (Putting down a towel helps as you learn this, as you may drop the contact as you're learning.)

As for the Saran Wrap effect: try Acuvue Oasys. They're the most breathable soft contact I've tried. They're miles better than others.
posted by runningwithscissors at 4:23 PM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Great answers, all. I just highlighted the one that actually just worked for me to get one of the recalcitrant contacts out -- but I suspect it's not the ideal way to remove the damned things because I get quite nervous using my nails on my eyes. If anyone has other unorthodox descriptions of removal techniques, please do share... I'm giving these things one more month to pan out before I suck it up and move back to the painful predictability of gas perms. :/
posted by artemisia at 4:23 PM on November 29, 2011

Runningwithscissors, I just asked my doc to order the Oasys ones, because someone recommended them as better for dry eyes! Fingers and toes crossed that they will be better than the ones I'm using right now -- Biofinity torics, I believe they're called.
posted by artemisia at 4:25 PM on November 29, 2011

I actually disagree with the answerer above who suggests dry eyes-- all of my painful contact-removal incidents happened with dry eyes.

nobody here suggested dry eyes—um, bc that would kill. the recommendation was to get your lens wet but make sure your fingers are dry.
posted by violetk at 4:31 PM on November 29, 2011

Glad my answer helped you at least temporarily! I've been doing this for a few years and have never had a problem. I should point out that, when I first moved to the soft lenses, I was using ones that only had to be replaced once a month (I never wore them overnight, only daytime). In the beginning of each pair, they were reeeeally hard to get out and super slippery, but as the month got on, they got easier and easier to remove- almost like they were getting worn down and some sort of slippery coating was coming off.

I ended up switching to daily disposable lenses a couple years back, since I wear glasses most of the time and felt weird throwing out monthly lenses I only wore maybe 7 times, and the dailies are a lot flimsier and also a lot easier to take out. My current lenses are 1-Day Acuvue Moist lenses.
posted by wondermouse at 4:34 PM on November 29, 2011

I don't think it's been suggested here, but I have success just lightly putting the pad of my fingertip (never the nail! ouch!) right into the center of my contact, looking straight ahead into the mirror, and sliding the contact down and out of my eye. Also, I am super nearsighted (like a -8.00) and can still always see what I'm doing after one contact is out, but I get all super close to the mirror. Like, my face is six inches away from the mirror when I'm taking my lenses out. A full-length mirror on the back of the bathroom door might help if you're having trouble seeing what you're doing.
posted by jabes at 4:36 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sorry, violetk, but yes, someone did.

Like you, I disagree very strongly with dry eyes (and agree with the fingers), so I had to comment. I guess it works for Laura Macbeth, but dry eyes are awful for me.
posted by nat at 4:43 PM on November 29, 2011

I put my middle finger on the contact and drag it down into the bottom eyelid which kind of pops it out. Then I get hold of it by putting my thumb and middle finger at the opposite lower edges of my eye and sliding them together/ pulling them out at the same time. Kind of like pulling an eyelashes out. I don't specifically try to grab the lens but if I've knocked it down into that eyelid space sufficiently then 90% of the time it will be between my thumb and finger when I pull them away. The good thing about this method is that you don't need to look at what you're doing. The bad thing is that if you link all is lost and you have to start over.

Basically the further you can get the thing from your iris the better. If you slide it into am edge like your eyelid or thumb it'll generally bend and you can pop it out.
posted by fshgrl at 4:48 PM on November 29, 2011

I wore soft contact lenses sooooo comfortably until I went on the birth control. Oasys did nothing for me. But I don't know if you're male or female.
posted by it's a long way to south america at 4:50 PM on November 29, 2011

I have had trouble before where my eyes were dry and contact would not budge, I used one wetting drop to moisten my eyeball, with dry fingers push the contact to the side of the eye towards your nose and gently pinch it out.
posted by sandyp at 4:52 PM on November 29, 2011

Try a few (or a lot of) FAKE yawns. This will nevertheless make your eyes tear and make things easier.
posted by Morrigan at 4:55 PM on November 29, 2011

Yes to put some eyedrops in first and make sure your fingers are dry.

The pinching motion- I'm amazed at all you people who apparently pinch vertically??? LO OUR MANY DIFFERENCES!!!

Anyway, I pull my lower eyelid down with the ring finger of my non-dominant hand, and then use the index finger and thumb of my dominant hand to pinch inward from the corner of my eye, not the top or bottom. I guess I feel for the edges and then sort of squeeze the lens and pull it (gently!) out, although I do it so quickly I don't think the steps through. I also look down so I don't see my fingers coming and freak out!

You might have trouble with this method as well as the others if your eyes are dry; mine aren't, particularly.

Also, it took me several weeks to figure out my contacts when I first got them. (Actually, my eye doctor wouldn't give them to me because I couldn't out them in and take them out myself and I started crying because I hated my glasses and felt so stupid and inept and my mom said we could tell everyone that my contacts hadn't come in yet. Which was very sweet of her. I FEEL FOR YOU, IS WHAT I'M SAYING.) I think it is a steep learning curve, steeper than people make it out to be.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 4:57 PM on November 29, 2011

If your eyes are dry, the contact will stick like glue and all the pinching it the world won't let you remove it. Blink like a mofo, use rewetting drops, and once your eyes are wet with natural tears or saline (NEVER plain water or saliva), pinch with DRY fingers.

Trying it right now with the right lens:

If I tilt my head slightly to the right, look up to the left, raise my right hand, rest my thumbpad on the lens near the the right edge and gently pinch with the middle or index finger (like I'm trying to gently scootch the lens over towards my thumb), it comes off nicely.

Reverse for the left: tilt head to left, look up to right, left thumb, left index or middle finger, gentle-pinch-scootch, success!
posted by maudlin at 5:01 PM on November 29, 2011

Interesting. I think, skimming these answers, that I have an entirely different way of removing my contacts.

I use my top eyelid to do it. With my eye open, I put the pad of my index finger of the hand that I put the contact in with (so whatever hand matches the eye - right hand for right eye) on the center of my top eyelid. I press in gently, applying pressure to the eyelid while keeping my eye open, and move my finger downward (so, as if I am closing my eyelid with my finger, but with more pressure).

This makes the contact fold in half and rest in the inside of my bottom eyelid. I then pinch the contact with my middle finger and thumb of the same hand to remove.

This is how my eye doctor taught me how to remove my soft contacts almost 15 years ago. I had no idea that most people were, for all intents and purposes, PINCHING THEIR EYEBALLS.

If this makes no sense I'll make a video for you. More people need to use my method, because it is much less traumatic (at least I think it is from reading these descriptions).
posted by k8lin at 5:07 PM on November 29, 2011

First I pull my lower eyelid down with my middle finger. Then I place the tip of my index finger in the center of the contact and then look all the way up. This means that the contact is now on the white part of my eye, which is facing forward. Then I gently pinch. I've never scratched my cornea or otherwise hurt myself doing it this way.
posted by number9dream at 5:14 PM on November 29, 2011

k8lin's method doesn't work for me; the contact slides below the edge of the lower eyelid and OH LAWD TERRIBLE.
posted by runningwithscissors at 5:22 PM on November 29, 2011

You don't have to pinch if pinching doesn't work for you. I hold my top lid open with my left pointer finger and my bottom lid open with my thumb, then, looking straight ahead, use my right pointer finger to move the contact to the inside corner of my eye, where it'll naturally come out/become grab-able.

Also, if the Oasys contacts don't work for you, let me recommend Biofinity Monthlies as another alternative. They feel completely opposite of the saran wrap contacts. In fact, they don't feel like anything at all, and I can (theoretically) go well over a week without taking them out without noticing at all.
posted by litnerd at 5:28 PM on November 29, 2011

I find I have to put my fingers on my eyeball in the ready-to-pinch position and then WAIT. Hold my fingers there against the eyeball (well, lens). A few seconds, until my eyeball stops twitching and I can almost feel the lens adher to the fingers. THEN roll my fingers together.

It took me several weeks to figure out this method, and since then it's been foolproof. Beforehand it took me up to 10 minutes per eye to get them out.
posted by lollusc at 5:37 PM on November 29, 2011

k8lin's method works well for me, and I only wear soft contacts occasionally.

(Back when I used to wear hard contacts I could flick them out of my eyes with my eyelids ... )
posted by needled at 5:43 PM on November 29, 2011

Talk to your optometrist about how difficult it is to remove the contacts. Sometimes, it has to do with the curve of the contact lens and the shape of your eyeball. The last time that I needed new contacts, the doc gave me a couple of different brands to try. I mentioned that one brand was particularly difficult to remove (like it was vacuum-sealed to my eyeball), and he said it might have had to do with the curve of the lens and not fitting my eye properly. Also, there may be a different brand that's a bit thicker and not so saran-wrappy.

I've been wearing soft contact lenses for 15 years now and usually have no problems. I'd agree with the answerers above where a dry finger works better (more traction), thinner contacts are harder to get out (less stiffness), and dry eyes increase the suction.
posted by watch out for turtles at 5:51 PM on November 29, 2011

Wash your hands. Dry them really good. Wait a minute so they dry even more. Wipe your finger tips on a clean dry cloth (e.g. microfiber) so they get very dry and all the surface oils off. Choose an eye. Blink once or twice. Look outward (away from nose) with that eye just a little. Hold your finger and thumb horizontally in front of your eye about 1 cm apart, then touch your eye, then Press+Pinch+Pluck at the same time. Like you're pulling a grape off the vine. Press+Pinch+Pluck. One smooth motion.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:53 PM on November 29, 2011

I do it differently now that I've been doing it for 15 years and am used to it.

Current method: Look straight forward. Touch thumb and index finger to either corner of the opposite eye. I slowly slide my fingers across my eye and this causes the contact to fold up and end up pinched between my fingertips. I don't get traction on the contact lens surface itself, I am pushing the *edges* of the lens so there is a very small groove there and you can push them. It doesn't require any pressure on your eye.

The key thing I do differently from most of those above is to look straight forward. If I look upwards, the contact goes upwards, and I can't catch it between my fingertips because it goes up under my eyelid partially. If I keep my gaze straight ahead (much easier now that I'm used to touching my eye) then the contact stays in the perfect place so I can get it. Maybe it's something about my eye contour, I've done it this way with multiple contact brands.

The old way I used to do it was that I would lean forward so that my face was very close to a mirror, and I would hold my eyelids open with the fingers of my same side hand, so I could reach across with the opposite hand and catch the contact with the pinching action above. This helped because even when the contact was out of one eye (I am also very nearsighted, -8.5) I was close enough to the mirror that I could see the other eye and what I was doing. I think this was important when I was learning the technique because if I had not been able to see what I was doing with the naked eye, the eye with the contact still in it would have instinctually looked away when my fingers approached it and blocked the only 'view' I had.

Boy, what a wordy answer for something simple, I hope it helps because I think you will grow to like soft contacts.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:12 PM on November 29, 2011

k8lin's method is the same one that my eye doctor taught me to remove my soft contacts when I was 12 years old. That was 26 years ago and that's still how I do it. Works well for me.
posted by SisterHavana at 6:23 PM on November 29, 2011

How long are your nails? I've bitten mine forever and have never had trouble removing my contacts, but I got acrylic tips on a whim this fall and COULD NOT DO IT any more. It turns out I use the actual tippy-tip of my finger for the pinching, not the underside of the top part of my finger (if that makes sense). So maybe clip your nails short for a while, if you usually wear them long?
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:23 PM on November 29, 2011

When my contacts feel particularly glued to my eyes (after I've worn them too long, or gotten lots of water splashed in my face), I find closing my eye and pinching them through the eyelid helps to loosen them.

Then, like many of the other posters, I pull my lower lid down with my ring finger, and use thumb and pointer to pinch the contact off.
posted by Metasyntactic at 6:27 PM on November 29, 2011

Nails are very short, Sweetie Darling. I clipped them precisely in order to expedite the removal of the contacts!

I think tomorrow I'm going to try K8lin's removal technique because for some reason it seems most sensible to my hard-contact-trained brain. It's sort of the same "make it pop out" philosophy.

That said, it's really frustrating to me that all of you other folks have, apparently, graceful uber-dexterous fairy-fingers that manage to pluck your contacts off your corneas with nary a scratch. And I'm damned envious!!

I've asked my optometrist to order in some other contacts so I can see if the problem is or is not owed to the Biofinity torics I'm wearing. (He'd recommended those as starters because they mimic hard contacts, moving vertically instead of horizontally when you blink!)

And thanks SO MUCH, all of you, for your patient explanations, which I will definitely be returning to tomorrow night as I once again panic while attempting to remove my contacts. :)
posted by artemisia at 6:33 PM on November 29, 2011

You also want to make sure your eyes are nice and moist. If they are too dry then the contact will be cemented to your eyeball.

I use the "slide it to the corner of my eye then blink" method.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:36 PM on November 29, 2011

I don't pinch either. I just use one finger (the pad, never the nail) right in the middle of the contact and basically drag it straight down my eyeball until it pops out. The drawback is I frequently drop the lens but I have the kind you just wear one day and throw out so it doesn't matter. But when I put my lenses back in the next morning and can see again I find the one I dropped yesterday stuck on the faucet or something.

And I second the person who said don't take them out right after a shower or right after a bath. It seems to make them stick on your eyes harder.
posted by interplanetjanet at 6:54 PM on November 29, 2011

And now that I think about it, I don't move my finger. I put my finger right on the lens and then hold then lens still while moving my eye up and it pops out.
posted by interplanetjanet at 6:56 PM on November 29, 2011

Thinking back to my soft contact-wearing days (now using RGPs, which I actually find more comfortable), I was also taught k8lin's technique.
posted by thomas j wise at 7:29 PM on November 29, 2011

This question intrigued me so much I actually put my contacts back in so I could see how I took them out. (I've been doing it for 22+ years, it's that automatic for me.)

Anyway, I'm a "pull down right below my eye with the middle finger of my non-dominant hand, put the tip of my thumb of my dominant hand on one side of the lens, the tip of my index finger of my dominant hand on the other side of the lens, slowly push the two fingers together until the lens pops out" kinda gal.
posted by Lucinda at 8:28 PM on November 29, 2011

I got one of these contact removers. I know, goofy, but being entirely new to contacts, I had a hell of a time getting my soft daily wear lenses out. I can usually get them out now without it, but if it doesn't work in a few tries or I feel like I'm pinching my eyeball, this thing works every time.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 8:53 PM on November 29, 2011

Don't think of it as pinching, like you are trying to pick up a dime off of a smooth surface. Instead, use one digit as a stopper, and drag the other digit across the edge of the contact. You shouldn't ever have to actually touch your eye. You just use your fingerprints as they were meant to be used.

Also, make sure the contacts are fitted correctly. Might be the wrong size, and are suction-cupping to your eye.

Last thing: before manipulating your contact lenses, wash your hands with non moisturizing, non scented, non-antibacterial glycerine soap and dry them with a lint free cloth. Or leave them wet. Doesn't make a difference, contacts aren't as slippery in normal water for some reason. One fiber of lint is all it takes to turn a normal day into an eye-pain day.
posted by gjc at 8:59 PM on November 29, 2011

I use my middle finger and index finger to sort of pinch the contact out. But really it is like the same touch and feel as pinching a picture bigger or smaller on an iPhone or iPad, very lightly touch and make that same pinching, pulling motion. It's almost more of a rolling motion with your fingertips.
posted by tamitang at 10:31 PM on November 29, 2011

I agree with tamitang about the iPhone! For reference as far as fit and moistness, here's how it works for me: if I touch one fingertip lightly to the contact, I can slide the lens all around my eye easily, no more pressure than for moving on a touchscreen.

Then if I place a second fingertip on the contact, and hold one finger still while sliding the other finger towards it, or slide the two together, the contact folds and comes out. I use my index finger and thumb and bring them together horizontally.

If my eye is too dry, the lens doesn't move as easily (and if I've fallen asleep with contacts in, they're glued on when I wake up - I have to make myself tear up to get them moving again, or wait for a while). But the surface of the contact doesn't have to be especially moist.

When I first started wearing contacts, I would use the middle finger of each hand to hold my eye open while I did this (one pulling the upper eyelid up, one pulling down below), but after a few years I stopped needing to do that.
posted by songs about trains at 7:22 AM on November 30, 2011

Wash your hands. Dry them really good. Wait a minute so they dry even more. Wipe your finger tips on a clean dry cloth (e.g. microfiber) so they get very dry and all the surface oils off. Choose an eye. Blink once or twice. Look outward (away from nose) with that eye just a little. Hold your finger and thumb horizontally in front of your eye about 1 cm apart, then touch your eye, then Press+Pinch+Pluck at the same time. Like you're pulling a grape off the vine. Press+Pinch+Pluck. One smooth motion.

OMG this one worked like a charm!!!!

Now I am terrified it will not work again -- but thank you, Seanmpuckett, if it works routinely you will have become my new hero!
posted by artemisia at 7:38 AM on November 30, 2011

Grr. Naturally it didn't work for the other eye.

Well, thanks, guys, for all your help. I've asked for a different brand of contacts for trials, and if they don't work either, it's back to RPGs for me. In the meantime, I'll mark this question as resolved!
posted by artemisia at 7:52 AM on November 30, 2011

Did you switch hands? I use my right hand for the right eye and the left for the left, with a corresponding head tilt, as described above.
posted by maudlin at 8:24 AM on November 30, 2011

I've worn a contact of some sort for approx 40 years. Now I wear a bandage soft contact lens (called Proclear in the UK) and change it once a month.

What worked for me was to relax before taking it out - easier said than done when you're worried about your eye hurting! I found this out by accident by having had a glass of wine in the evening before I tried to remove it. A different relaxation technique would probably work too.

Now I know I can take it out without pain, I don't worry, so I don't necessarily drink the wine!
posted by mgrrl at 3:02 PM on November 30, 2011

« Older You don't scam Indians?   |   Starting GeekTool in the background? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.