Contact lenses make life easier and more convenient for millions of people. However, like any type of medical device (and that is what they are), there is the potential that the contact wearer may experience issues. Those issues are almost never the fault of the lenses themselves and are almost always easily correctable. Such issues include:
- Poor lens care.
- Damage to the lens.
- Infections stemming from poor lens hygiene.
- Scratched lenses.
- Installing the lenses inside out.
It’s that last issue that we’re here to talk about today because it’s one of the most common of all contact lens problems. First-time contact lens wearers, in particular, are prone to inadvertently turning their soft contacts inside out without realizing it. (Keep in mind this is not an issue when it comes to rigid, gas permeable lenses that cannot be turned inside out.)
7 Ways to Tell if Your Contacts are Inside Out
Soft contacts are miracles of modern technology but are not without their challenges. First among those challenges is trying to determine if the lenses are properly oriented or if they’ve been flipped inside out during cleaning or storage. Here are 7 ways to ensure your contacts are always properly aligned before installing them:
- Look at them from the side - Place one of your contacts on the tip of your finger with the rim pointing upward. Bring it in close so you can see it in detail and examine the rim. If the rim of the lens is pointing upward then your contact lens is properly oriented. If, however, the rim bows outward towards a horizontal position then the lens is inside out and will need to be flipped before being installed. When you first get your lenses you should take a good close look at them to familiarize yourself with how they look when properly oriented. This will make identifying an improperly aligned lens at a later date easier because you’ll know what it’s supposed to look like.
- Check the tint at the edge - Some lens come with what is called a “handling tint”. This is an extremely subtle blue tint that allows you to identify the lens when it is in the solution. This tint does not in any way affect the colour of your eyes. If you are unsure whether or not your contacts are properly aligned place one of them on the tip of your finger and examine it closely in front of a bright light. If the lens is properly oriented the handling tint will look very blue as you look down on the lens. If the lens is inside out the handling tint will be very faint and pale.
- Look for the “inside out indicator” - In addition to a handling tint, many new soft contacts also have a faint inside out indicator etched into their surface. This often takes the form of the numbers 1,2,3. If the lenses are properly aligned the numbers will be easily readable as you look at the lens from the side. If the lens is inside out the numbers will be upside down and backwards as you look through the lens. Some manufacturers use different indicators besides numbers. Ask your eye care professional about the inside out indicator before you purchase your contact lenses.
- The flip test - The effectiveness of this test will depend in part on who made the contacts. Because some are definitely easier to flip than others. That said it may be worth a try. In most cases, a contact lens will be more difficult to flip inside out than it is to flip back to the proper position. So if you are unsure whether the lens is properly oriented go ahead and flip it back and forth a few times to see if you can tell whether it is easier to flip one way. Whichever way is more difficult to flip is the wrong way. Keep 2 things in mind when doing this test: always make sure your hands are squeaky clean and clean the lens afterwards, before putting it in your eye.
- Don’t flip the lens. Period. - Your contact lenses are going to be properly oriented when you get them. Therefore, the easiest way to ensure that they are not inside out is to never flip them to begin with. This may seem like a no-brainer, and to a certain extent it is, but people are naturally curious and will often flip their lenses just to see what happens. Once they’ve been flipped once it can create doubt about whether the lenses are ever properly oriented. So the easiest way to avoid that doubt is to leave them oriented the way they are when you receive them.
- The taco test - First we should point out that the taco test won’t work if you have thick fingers. But if your fingers are thin you can try this method to determine if your contacts are inside out or not. You’ll want to very gently place the lens (with the rim pointing up) between your thumb and forefinger. Bring it in close to your face and watch as you squeeze it gently between your fingers. If the lens is properly aligned the edge will continue to point upward. If it’s inside out the edge will bow outward toward horizontal. The taco test is generally one of the last tests you should consider since the other tests on this list are easier to perform.
- The test of last resort - If you have tried the above techniques but are still unsure whether your contacts are properly aligned or inside out, put them on. If they are properly oriented they’ll be comfortable right away and blinking will not cause them to move around on the surface of your eye. If they are inside out they won’t feel right and the upturned edge will catch on your eyelids when you try to blink.
Inside out contacts are a nuisance but the problem can be easily rectified by performing one or more of the above tests.