How can I tell if my contact lens is inside out?

While rigid gas permeable lenses are too inflexible to turn inside out, it's actually quite easy to accidentally reverse a soft contact lens. Putting your contact lenses in like this not only results in blurred vision, but can actually be quite an uncomfortable experience for the wearer. Don't worry though, while this is uncomfortable it's not in any way damaging to your eye.

Usually, your lenses will come with a visibility tint, which helps you determine exactly how you should be holding it. However, our in-house eye care professionals pointed out a few other tricks to help you tell if your lens is inside out before you place it in your eye.

Are my contact lenses inside out?

Contact lens wearers new and old should watch this video created by our in-house optometrists, and learn how to tell if your contact lenses are inside out.

Learning how to spot a lens that is inside out

Before you take a look at your lens, make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly with clean water for 20 seconds and dry them with a lint-free towel. Then once you pick up the lens, check that it's free from any excess solution or cleaning fluid that might make holding it much more difficult. You need to be able to position the lens properly on your finger before it can be placed into your eye - standing under a bright light can help you to see it better.

Step 1: Inspect the contact lens from the side

One of the quickest and easiest ways to check if your contact lens is inside out is to turn and examine it closely from the side. Place the lens on the tip of your finger with the edge of the lens facing upwards and hold it close to your eyes so that you can get a better view. If the lens is correctly positioned the right side up then it will be cup-shaped with the edges curved upright, whereas a v-shape with a clear rim around the edge will indicate the lens is turned inside out.

Step 2: The half-moon test

Another simple and effective way of checking the position of your contact lens is to carry out the half-moon test. Hold the lens in the centre, firmly between your thumb and index finger, ensuring that you have a clear view of the outside of the lens. Squeeze it gently as if you're attempting to fold it in half.

With the edge facing upwards, the lens should be in the shape of a half-moon and you can safely insert it into your eye. If the rim is facing outwards in the direction of your thumb and index finger, the lens is inside out and you should reverse it, placing it in the palm of your hand to do so, if it helps.

Step 3: Analyse the visibility tint

Some contact lenses have a handling or visibility tint, usually green or blue, around the edge of the rim. While the tint doesn't cause any problems in terms of obstructing your vision, it makes holding the lens much easier and can help you to insert it more precisely.

To use the tint to determine whether the lens is turned the correct way, place it on the tip of your finger and examine the colour on the rim. A bold green or blue indicates that the lens is correctly positioned whereas a faded or lighter tint suggests that the lens needs to be reversed.

Step 4: Check for laser markings

Some contact lenses have laser markings that are present to help you to tell whether they are turned correctly. These markings may be numbers, such as '123', which, when viewed from the side, should read normally from left to right. Numbers that are reversed or upside down will indicate that the lens is turned inside out.

It's worth noting that the laser markings may only be visible from one side of the lens so, if they're not immediately apparent, turn the lens slowly until you find them.

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Take time and care to learn how to handle your contact lenses

With time and practice, applying lenses will become second nature and you'll rarely spend much time examining them before you know if they're inside out or not. If you need any more guidance, just reach out to your optician and ask for their help.

In the event that you insert your lenses the wrong way round, you can be reassured that your eyes will not be damaged even if the sensation is uncomfortable. As soon as you sense that the lens is inside out, you should remove it with clean hands, clean the lens with an appropriate solution and reinsert it, having checked that it's the correct way round.

Remember, dirt that gets between the contact and lens and the cornea, the surface of your eye, will cause irritation and discomfort and could cause damage to the lens. So if you wear contact lenses, you should always ensure that you observe strict hygiene and cleaning when preparing them:

  • When inserting a lens, try to avoid using your fingernails, especially if they're long or sharp. Soft permeable contact lenses are fragile and can easily be damaged,rendering them useless.
  • Use an appropriate multi-purpose cleaning solution to ensure your lenses are free from dust and dirt.
  • Always store your lenses in durable container, so that they remain in optimum condition.
  • If you're experiencing dry eyes after too many application attempts, try putting in some eye drops to give them a boost of moisture.
  • Wearers who have switched from eyeglasses and are struggling to master the application and removal process, can check out our handy step-by-step video tutorials.