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How to Tell if a Contact Lens Is Inside Out

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A woman holding her left upper eyelid up to put on a contact lens.

Imagine this scenario: you are putting in your contacts, ready to seize the day, and you notice they are not feeling quite right. This brand fit just fine yesterday, so what changed? They could be inside out! Soft contacts are flexible, helping them stay nice and comfy, but it also means they can flip around.

You can tell if a contact lens is inside out if it feels uncomfortable, unstable, and causes your eyes to water. If you are new to wearing contacts, putting them in properly can be a bit of a learning curve. Fortunately, we can help you learn the ropes during a contact lens exam.

Signs Your Contacts Are Inside Out

At first glance, it might seem easy to detect if a lens is inside out. However, that is not always the case; especially if you are in a rush or not paying close attention. Even the most seasoned contact lens wearers can sometimes get it wrong. Here is what to look for:

  • General discomfort
  • Watery eyes
  • Grittiness
  • Feeling your contact lenses moving around
  • Contacts falling out

An inside-out lens is not typically dangerous, though it can be downright annoying. However, it can impact your vision, causing you to squint and strain your eyes.

Contact lenses are shaped to match the curve of your eye. Wearing one inside out means it is fitting the reciprocal shape, which can lead to friction and potential damage to the cornea. This kind of misfit can set the stage for more serious eye health issues over time.

How to Spot an Inside-Out Contact Lens

Contact lenses are quite small and malleable, so even looking directly at them, you may not notice they are inside-out. Here are a few tests you can run to see if your lenses lay at the core of your eye discomfort. Before you start touching your lens, however, remember to wash your hands with soap and water.

Manufacturer Markings

This test depends on what contact lens brand you wear but is a fairly foolproof way to check your lenses before putting them in. This can be done in 2 ways: tinting the edges or leaving a mark.

Some lens manufacturers will tint the inside edge of the contact lens. If you look at the lens from above, you should see a faint blue or green ring at the edge. This ring does not affect your vision but is placed there to help you find the correct side. An inside-out lens will have a pale ring, while the correct orientation should be vibrant and clear.

Other manufacturers may prefer to use laser markings. These markings could be letters or numbers etched into the side of the lens. Ask your optometrist what you should look for when checking your lenses, as it may be different for you.

The Side View Test

An inside-out lens often has edges that flare out rather than curve inwards. This gives it a slightly bowl-like shape when placed on your fingertip. This is easiest to see by placing your contact lens on your finger with the open edge pointing up. Observe it from the side.

A proper lens should be a perfect dome, that way it will fit nicely on your eye. Sometimes, a lens that is inside out can look like a jellyfish, with the edges slightly turned up. This can create a flattened, more concave look, as opposed to the smooth, convex shape of a correctly placed lens.

This will not help if your lens has flipped entirely inside out, such as if you have been wearing it wrong all day, but once you become familiar with how your lenses work, it can be a pretty reliable test.

The Taco Test

If you cannot discern which direction the lens is pointing as it sits on your finger, you may have to take a more hands-on approach. Place the contact lens between the tips of your forefinger and thumb, gripping near the center. Give the edges some space to bend.

Gently squeeze the lens, as if you were going to fold it in half. You do not have to do it much. A correct lens should point upwards and look like a taco. The edges of an inside-out lens may bend outwards over your fingers.

A contact lens being cleaned using a cleaning solution.

Caring for Your Contact Lenses

Even contact lenses worn correctly can be uncomfortable if you do not care for them.

Here are some contact lens care tips:

  • Always wash your hands with mild, cream-free soap and water before touching your contact lenses.
  • Use fresh solution whenever you clean your contact lenses.
  • Use a proper storage case and replace it at least every 3 months.
  • Replace your contact lenses according to their recommended wear schedule.

Seeing a World Beyond Eyeglasses

Recognizing an inside-out contact lens is one of those mundane yet vital skills that contribute to everyday comfort. The good news is that with a bit of practice and the right awareness, you can become a master at telling the difference.

But if your lenses still cause you trouble, Rock optiX can help. Your contact lenses should be comfortable, and we use precise tools to capture accurate measurements, giving you a prescription that can help you see the world according to your vision needs. Book your contact lens exam and explore what contacts can do for you.

Written by Dr. Teresa Hrach

Dr. Teresa D. Hrach is an experienced optometrist located in Millis, Massachusetts. She is your neighborhood optometrist who truly cares about your medical needs.

Dr. Hrach was accepted early to optometry school and got her Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Optometry degree from New England College of Optometry. She worked part-time in eye care services until she opened her own optometry practice in 2004. She has board certification as an optometric physician to diagnose, manage, and treat various eye conditions and diseases.

Dr. Hrach has a focus in eye care services that deal with contact lenses and dry eye syndrome. Her main priority is to provide outstanding eye care to her patients. She is passionate about health and nutrition and wants to help her optometry patients see better every day.

If you’re searching for an optometric physician with expert services and a warm, personal touch, come see Dr. Hrach.

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