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Putting in and taking out soft contact lenses

How do I put in contact lens?

The instructions for inserting and removing the lenses sound very complicated, but once you get the hang of it, it will get easier.

These instructions are simply to remind you what you were taught in the contact lens clinic. Almost all parents and carers are scared of hurting their child’s eyes and can find it very difficult to deal with the lenses at first. With time, you will become more confident.

The lenses are not painful but if you have a baby they may cry a little in the same way as some babies cry when they are bathed.

  1. Wash your hands with unscented liquid soap and dry your hands. Please refer to this resource for how to properly wash your hands before handling contact lenses.
  2. Make sure that your nails are short and smooth to minimise the risk of injury to your child’s eye
  3. Remove the lens from its container and check it over for any nicks or tears around the edge.

Illustration of person holding contact lens

  1. Hold the lens gently across the middle between your thumb and index finger. Check to make sure that the lens has not turned inside out.

Image of diagram showing the shape of a contact lens the correct shape and inside out

  1. Using your other thumb, pull up the top lid as shown. It is important to place your thumb as near to the lashes as possible. You may need to put your thumb over the whole eyelid to do this.
  2. Make sure that the eyelid is dry. If necessary, dry the eyelid or hold the lid through a clean tissue.

Illustration of person putting contact lens in eye

  1. Place the edge of the lens under the top lid and then using your forefinger gently push the rest of the lens up under the lid until it sits on the eye.

Illustration of person putting contact lens in eye

  1. Pull down the bottom lid and make sure the lens is in place.

The lens will move into the correct position in the eye unless it has folded in which case it must be removed and replaced. A folded lens may be uncomfortable and your child may try to rub it out. Only soft lenses can fold, but any lenses can slip underneath the top lid and disappear from view. The lens will not do any damage to the eye if it remains there for some time, even overnight if necessary.

It cannot get lost behind the eye and will usually move back into place if left for any length of time. If you are not sure whether the lens is in the eye or whether it has fallen out, and you put another lens in the eye, the first lens will usually fall out.

Be patient and do things at your own pace, try it in steps so that you learn one thing at a time.

Do not expect to get it right straight away. It may take a lot of practise to get the lenses in and out easily so do not worry and please take your time.

How do I clean the contact lens?

Learning how to clean contact lenses can be helpful for your child to gain some confidence and independence. Please refer to this resource for how to clean contact lenses.

How do I take out contact lenses?

Children often find this relatively easy compared to inserting lenses, especially if you have small fingers. There are 2 ways you can remove contact lenses.

Method A

This method can be practiced on the closed lids to make sure you are pinching in the right place, and with the right amount of pressure.

  1. Wash your hands with unscented liquid soap and dry your hands.
  2. Hold the upper lid with the hand that you do not insert the contact lens with.
  3. Pull down the lower lid with the middle finger of your other hand. Looking in a mirror usually helps.
  4. Using the index finger and thumb of the same hand, the lens can be pinched off the eye with 2 fingers held horizontally.

Illustration of person removing contact lens

Method B

  1. Wash your hands with unscented liquid soap and dry your hands.
  2. Look straight ahead and place your index or middle finger of one hand at the base of your lashes of your upper lid.
  3. Place your index or middle finger of the other hand at the base of your lashes of your lower lid.
  4. Pull your eyelids wide apart.
  5. Squeeze them together, applying gentle pressure to your eyeball.
  6. The lens should fall out onto the back of your finger.

Illustration of person pinching contact lens Illustration of person removing contact lens

Things to remember

  • Always wash your hands before handling lenses and touching your child’s eyes.
  • Make sure that you nails are short to minimise the risk of injury to your child’s eye when putting in and taking out their contact lenses.
  • Look out for signs of infection, such as red, sticky or watery eyes and contact the eye department immediately if you are not sure.
  • Always carefully follow the instructions for contact lens solutions.
  • Never use saliva (spit) or tap water to rinse or clean lenses.
  • Please order more contact lenses from us before you run out.
  • If using a 2-step contact lens cleaning solution. Never insert a contact lens in the eye unless you are sure it has been neutralised.
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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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Please contact the eye department for further information on 0114 2717468.


Western Bank
S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

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