Kate Swanson writes about mental and physical well-being based on her personal experiences, as well as those of her family.
If you struggle to insert your lenses, you're not clumsy—it's just that many optometrists teach unnecessarily difficult methods of insertion and removal.
It's easy for them—they can see what they're doing the whole time while they're putting the lens in your eye. But when you go home and try to do it their way, you have to do it by feel, which is difficult. The alternative, which I'm about to describe, is to find a way to see what you're doing and insert the lens at the same time. And the secret is very simple . . .
Do you struggle to insert and remove your contact lenses? Do you find it impossible to put your lenses in, and see in the mirror at the same time? You're not alone. There's an effective method opticians don't teach you, and it's easy!
Soft lenses slide, so there's absolutely no need to put them directly on the colored part of your eye.
The easy way to insert contact lenses
Let's put the right lens in first. These instructions assume you're right-handed. If you're left-handed, read left hand for right hand and vice versa.
- Stand in front of the mirror with your lens ready to insert on your right index finger.
- Turn your head slightly to the right, while still looking in the mirror.
- Look at the eye farthest from the mirror - the colored part of the eye is right in the inner corner, and you can see a big expanse of white. That's your target!
With your left hand. make your eye wider. You can do this a number of ways, I'd suggest either
- put your left arm over your head and pull on your top lid, or
- bring it up under your chin and lower your bottom lid
Whatever works for you, but these two methods keep your left arm and hand out of the way, so you can still see the mirror.
- Still looking in the mirror sideways, put the lens on the white part of your eye with your right hand. If it doesn't "stick" straightaway, you can rub it in tiny circles a couple of times.
- Gently, push it in the direction of the coloured part of the eye as you straighten your head to look directly at the mirror. Don't worry about getting it exactly in place, it will naturally settle all by itself.
- Blink a few times.
Your lens should now be sitting nicely in the right place!
The video below illustrates a similar method, also based on putting the lens on the side of the eye.
Tip: If you turn your head and look into the corner of your eye as I suggest above, you won't have to stretch your eye open like this guy does—far too uncomfortable!
So Why Don't Optometrists Do It Like That?
There are two methods commonly used by opticians.
One, where they separate your lids with one hand and plop the lens straight on to the centre of your eye, is a hangover from the days when lenses were made of hard plastic. Hard lenses had to be placed exactly in the center, because they stayed exactly where you put them.
It's almost impossible to do on your own. For one thing, when you see your finger headed for the most sensitive part of your eye, all your instincts tell you to flinch away. If you can overcome that, then you lose sight of the mirror as your finger gets close to your eye - so you have to get into contortions to see past it, while at the same time holding your eye open with your other hand.
It is getting more common for optometrists do use the "slide" method nowadays - but it's their starting point that's the problem.
A common method is to ask you to look up, then they place the lens on the white beneath your pupil and ask you to blink - and hey presto, your lens slides neatly into place! Try that yourself, and you'll have no idea where your finger is. You're just as likely to put the lens on your lower lid instead of in your eye, or knock it off your finger with your eyelashes.
Another method is to ask you to look down, then they lift your top lid and put the lens on the expanse of white thus revealed. Then they let go your lid and ask you to look up and blink - once again, the lens should slip into place.
You may be able to master this version if you put a mirror sitting flat on the bench - so you can look down into the mirror while you lift your top lid and place the lens on the white. Unfortunately, I find that lifting my top lid distorts my vision so much I can't see in the mirror!
If you have long fingernails or arthritic hands, using your fingers to insert and remove your contacts may not be practical anyway. There are tools to help you, but choose carefully as some cheap versions simply don't work, or are so fiddly you might as well use your fingers!
When you're shopping for a lens inserter, make sure it's suitable for soft lenses. Many inserter tools are for hard or RGP lenses, and simply won't work with soft contacts. Also avoid the tweezer-type tools, even if they're labelled for soft contacts - they're more likely to tear the lens and can also give you a nasty poke in the eye, even with padded ends!
Removing contact lenses
You can remove lenses the same way you inserted them: put one finger on the lens, slide it on to the white of your eye, then pinch it out with thumb and forefinger.
However, once you've become used to putting things in your eye, you can probably just pinch the lens directly off the coloured part of your eye with your thumb and forefinger, without any trouble.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on March 27, 2013:
It's amazing how much difference it makes to use the right technique. Glad it helped!
Mike on March 26, 2013:
thank you so much for the tips! I've been trying to put on my lenses for 5 hours straight and after reading this I did it in 5 minutes! (:
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on April 24, 2012:
Hi ryry - sorry I can't edit your comment. Maybe you'll post it again!
Ryry Zar on April 24, 2012:
Seems I posted wrong message. My contribution is in the last paragraph. Don't know how this confusion came about :( help edit. Thanx
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on April 19, 2012:
Calm down, Bob! Once you start getting flustered about it, it's best to walk away, leave it for a while and try again later.
Take another look at the instructions, because I think you're not following them quite right. There is no way you can blink if you're doing it right, because you're holding the upper lid back with your other hand. Also make sure you're placing the lens on the side of your eye, not straight at the coloured part of your eye.
Bob on April 19, 2012:
Just got them today tried for an hour and I just can't do it. I can't get close to my eye without blinking. HELP :'(
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on December 30, 2011:
Glad it helped,John. I had the same struggles as you at first, which is why I wanted to share this solution with everyone else!
John on December 30, 2011:
I am eternally grateful Marisa. I have struggled with contact lenses for no joke 6 years never regularly being able to get them in or out and this helped me finally be able to do it. I was forced to wear glasses because every time I tried to give contacts another shot I couldn't do it.
You are dead on with what most optometrists teach and this was the #1 reason for my struggle I COULD NOT no matter what I tried avoid blinking while putting the lenses in using their method. But with your method it took me literally 10 minutes to figure it out (compared to 6 years of non-success). Thank you so so much for posting this, most useful piece of advice I've ever found on the internet!
Richard Earnest on October 19, 2011:
I've only just started using contacts lenses & have found your procedures really helpful, especially inconjunction with the video tutorial. I also found some really useful advice from Vision Express http://www.visionexpress.com/contact-lenses/, they have an FAQs section that put many of my initially fears to bed. Regards, Richard.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on October 15, 2011:
Alyssa, I've seen people suggest you put the lens on the white part then move your eye back into place, and it will work eventually though you may have to blink quite a bit! You need to move the lens around a little on the white to make sure it sticks first.
Cat, I'm a leftie too, I hope you managed to swap the instructions around.
Cat on October 13, 2011:
Thanks for your page! I will try this. But what if you're a leftie? Not *everyone* is right-handed. I have to kinda switch around with your instructions. But hey, thanks for the tips :o)
Alyssa. on October 11, 2011:
Back in march of this year I went to get contacts because i'm just tired of glasses! I look nerdy ( I just don't look good in glasses), when i take pictures they glare, and they always get dirty! So anyway it took me 4 hours straight trying to get my contacts in, they had me open my eyelids and place it directly on the colored part. I didn't have a problem getting them out, and getting them in again. Maybe because there was a mirror on my right side that i had to look down at? Anyway I went home to practice and I couldn't get it! I took another 5 hours trying to do it at home. I don't think my eye doctor likes me because he wont show me again! Anyway here's my questions.
1. Should I try to get contacts again? (I get the soft monthly throw away ones)
2. And if i were to, and i wanted to put them on the white part while look down by my nose could i just put it there, wait till it sticks, move my eye back into place look down and blink? Would it go? Or do I HAVE to slide it over? Sorry for all the questions!
AnonymousKid on October 11, 2011:
I really do hope this works...been having to wear this pretty thick glasses for a long time now and I tried for two hours to get them in and couldn't do it I'm gonna try my best at this
Michele on October 06, 2011:
Thanks SO SO SOOOOO much! I struggled for almost an hour before I thought "I'll Google this" and the first few pages I found suggested that terrible "look up" method. I thought I'd wasted a whole heap of money on contacts - then your article saved me. Can't thank you enough.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on September 19, 2011:
@Rob, I just can't understand why opticians keep teaching that stupid method. I wonder if they've ever tried putting lenses in their OWN eyes that way?
Rob, England on September 19, 2011:
Thanks very much for the advice. My optician failed to teach me after two 20 minute sessions using the method Charley described above and then gave up saying I wasn't suitable for lenses. After reading this article I bought some online and put them in myself after 10 minutes of trying.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on March 30, 2011:
Yes, most people do! That method works well if you're putting a lens in someone else's eye, which is why opticians do it. It's simply useless when you're putting a lens in your OWN eye. Good luck!
Charley on March 30, 2011:
I've recently been given lenses from my optician- she gave me a 4 day supply after i spent 20 minutes being able to get them into and out of my eye in the surgery! however, as soon as i went home, i couldn't get them in and i still can't. It's really frustrating and i don't know if the whole "look to the nose" idea will work for me but i will try!
My optician would make me grap my upper lid from over my head and pull down my lower lid as well with the other fingers on my right hand (say if for my right eye). Did anyone else get asked to do this, and COMPLETELY fail due to constant flinching/blinking?
Thankyou for the advice!
Saphira on March 23, 2011:
Omw! Thank u so so much!!! I could finally get the darn things in. I've got trial contact lenses at the moment and struggled for half an hour,then i decided to google 'easy insertion of contact lenses'.
Thanks again for making my life easier:-)
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on February 13, 2011:
@Contact Newby, I had the same problem - that's why I wrote the article! I'm surprised how many opticians still show an outdated and more difficult way to insert your contact lens.
Contact Newby on February 13, 2011:
Thank you very much for these tips! I was having a hard time holding my eyelid open and kept flinching but this method completely solved the problem. Much better then the method given by my optician. So thanks a lot!
contectlens092 on November 15, 2010:
no-doubt shows proper way
eyewearspy on September 07, 2010:
Great tips on how to insert contact lens in the right way. I really appreciate the video here. Found more informative and useful to those who wanted to insert lenses in their eyes. For me, I'm afraid to try this lenses inserted in my eyes. But it's beautiful and add appearance to looks.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on May 17, 2010:
Ake, you use the same technique as me to put them in, but I hadn't heard of your technique for removing contact lenses. Worth trying!
Åke on May 17, 2010:
Great guide, without these I'd probably still be struggling immensely with getting contacts in and out. What did the trick for me was to look towards the nose and put the contact on the exposed white of the eye, and for removal I look straight ahead and pinch my lower and upper eyelids towards the center, folding the lens in half and/or making it come of the eyeball.
ugh on May 14, 2010:
I CANT DO THIIIIS
projectmaster on April 23, 2010:
I love me contacts however do you know where to get colour toric lenses?
carleigh. on April 14, 2010:
after my second day of using them i can do it no bother.you just have to be consistent and not get agitated.
Piilolinssien Käyttö on October 25, 2009:
Doing this is very hard for a noob like me :(
I just cant make it happen.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on February 19, 2009:
SweetiePie, are you sure they were soft contact lenses? It's not that many years ago when all contact lenses were either hard or gas permeable - both were excruciatingly uncomfortable to wear and took a long time to get used to.
These days, the soft disposables are incredibly comfortable - the average person won't even know they're wearing them. I'm like Lissie and can't even wear ordinary soft lenses, but I can wear daily disposables no problem.
SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on May 19, 2008:
I tried, tried, and tried, but I was never able to do it. Oh well, I just have to wear glasses because my eyes are too sensitive. Thanks for the great hub, I am sure it will help others.
pjdscott from Durham, UK on May 19, 2008:
Super hub. At various occasions over the past fifteen years, I have tried various versions of contact lenses with total failure. The result - little problem getting them into my eye but my eyeball totally rejected them, resulting in constant streaming/tears.
When I go for my next checkup, I have bookmarked your page and will try your great tips, thanks!
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on May 18, 2008:
Lissie, you don't get protein build-up on one-day disposables, so they may be the answer for you. Eve, I don't wear soft contact lenses these days, but I haven't had laser correction either - I wear night-time contacts instead (you can read my Hub on them here https://youmemindbody.com/eye-care/Sight-without-G...
evemurphy from Ottawa on May 18, 2008:
This is very helpful information for those of us who use contact lenses! Someday maybe we can all get lazer eye correction but until then we need to know how to do this! :)
ahmu on May 18, 2008:
thanks for the information
Elisabeth Sowerbutts from New Zealand on May 18, 2008:
Ah just got rid of mine after a dance comp! I only wear them for dance competitions and the odd ball now! I had protein build up so can't wear them on a regular basis. Now I think about I do slide them in as u describe: I was lucky never to have to deal with hard lenses: its nice not to have to deal with 3 different solutions we had to use though!