How Can I Tell If My Contacts Are Inside Out?

June 21, 2024

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It can be difficult to tell if your soft contact lenses are inside out, because they are extremely thin and very pliable.

Even experienced contact lens wearers have trouble with it.
Here are ways to tell if your contact is inside out:
Method 1: The Side View
Place the contact lens on the tip of your index finger so the edge of the lens is pointing up.
Then hold your finger up directly in front of your eyes so you can look at the lens from the side.
If your contact forms a perfect cup-shape with the edge perfectly upright, the lens is correctly oriented and is ready to be placed on your eye. If the edge has a noticeable outward bend (like a rimmed soup bowl), the contact is inside out.
Method 2: The “Taco Test”
Place the contact lens between the tips of your thumb and forefinger, grasping it near the center so the entire edge is free.
Gently squeeze the lens, as if you are about to fold it in half.
If the edge of the lens points upward (resembling a hard-shell taco), the lens is correctly oriented.
If the edge bends outward (toward your thumb and finger), the lens is inside out.
Method 3: Check The Edge Tint
If you wear contacts that have a handling tint that extends to the edge of the lens, place the lens on your fingertip (as in Method 1 above), and look down at its edge from above.
If the colour of the handling tint on the lens edge looks very blue (or green, depending on the tint), the lens is correctly oriented.
If the colour looks pale or washed out, the lens probably is inside out.
Method 4: Look For Laser Markings
Some contact lenses have a laser marking to help you determine if your contact is inside out.
For example, one brand has a “123” laser marking near the edge of the lens.
To view the laser markings, perch the lens on your fingertip (as in Method 1 above), and then hold the lens up to a bright light.
The Side View Method: 
Before placing a contact lens on your eye, make sure it looks like half a ball, not a soup bowl with a rim. (With some lenses the difference may be subtle.)
Look at the outside surface of the lens from the side:
• If the “123” appears normally, the lens is correctly oriented and ready to be placed on your eye.
• If the “123” is backward, the contact is inside out.
If at first you don’t see the laser marking, turn the lens on your fingertip to make sure you check its entire surface.
The more you wear contact lenses, the easier it will become to tell if your contacts are inside out.
And don’t worry — you won’t harm your eye or your contact lens if you put it on inside out.
In most cases, you’ll be able to tell almost immediately if a contact lens is inside out.
Typically, the lens will feel uncomfortable and will move too much when you blink.
It also may move off the center of your eye or pop out.
If this happens, simply remove the lens, rinse it with a multipurpose contact lens solution or preservative saline and then choose one of the methods above to make sure the lens is correctly oriented before putting it back on your eye.
Learning to put contact lenses into your eyes is not difficult.
However, figuring out if your contact lenses are inside out can be a bit trickier.
That’s because contact lenses are thin and flexible, and can easily turn inside out.
Sometimes, even those who’ve been wearing contacts for years have difficulty knowing if the lenses are correct.
Of course, putting your contact lenses on inside out causes discomfort, but doing that will not damage your eyes.
That’s because contacts fit your eye’s surface.
When inside out, they do not fit as well, however, they typically allow you to see just as well.
Some people do not notice their contacts are inside out until they’ve worn them for a while.
Others notice right away.
Some of the signs that you’ve put them in the wrong way include:
  • Feeling like your contacts are moving around your eye
  • Discomfort
  • Gritty feeling
  • Watery eyes
  • Pops out more easily
 
So, if you do get your contacts in wrong, simply remove them and try again.
However, before you do, try one of these methods to be sure you put them in right the next time.
How it feels in your eye
A contact lens that is put in the wrong way will generally be more uncomfortable and may feel slightly like it is lightly scraping your eye.
It won’t sit comfortably on the curvature of your eye and will easily move from the centre.
It may even pop out.
How is your vision
The most obvious sign that your contact lens in the wrong way around/inside out will be your vision.
If you put your lens in and your vision is still blurry, remove your contact lens, pop the lens the other way around and then rinse your contact lens with your recommended solution before reinserting it.
optometrist-damon-ezekiel

In addition to owning and managing Ezekiel Eyes, Damon is a contact lens consultant to various research organisations. He regularly lectures and conducts workshops in contact lens practice throughout Australia, Asia and the United States. Damon graduated from the University of NSW with a Bachelor of Optometry in 1989. He is now married with two children and enjoys running, hockey, swimming, piano, travelling and trekking.

Damon’s professional associations include:
President of the International Society of Contact Lens Specialists
Practising Fellow of the Scleral Lens Education Society
Fellow of the Cornea & Contact Lens Society of Australia
Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry
Member of Optometry Australia
Member of the Orthokeratology Society of Australia
Member of Alcon Australia advisory panel