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What Happens if You Put Your Contact Lenses on Inside Out?

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A close-up of a young woman rubbing her right eye with her right hand, feeling eye discomfort after wearing her contact lens inside out.

Have you ever put in your contact lenses and noticed they didn’t feel quite right? There’s a chance they’re on inside out. While this isn’t a problem with rigid lenses, soft contacts are thin and flexible and can easily flip around. This is especially true if you’re new to wearing them.

Fortunately, wearing contact lenses inside out doesn’t generally damage your eyes, though you’ll likely experience some discomfort. A contact lens exam fits your lenses to your unique eyes. This means if they’re inside out, they won’t have the correct curvature and simply won’t fit as well.

How to Tell if Your Contact Lenses Are Inside Out

Here are some signs you might notice if your contact lenses are inside out:

  • Discomfort
  • A gritty feeling
  • Watery eyes
  • The feeling that your contact lenses are moving around
  • Your contacts pop out more easily

Because it’s so easy for soft lenses to turn inside out, it can be hard to recognize them as the source of your discomfort. This is especially true if you’re one of the millions of Americans with dry eyes.

Most people who put their contact lenses on inside out notice immediate discomfort, but it’s possible you might not notice for hours. 

A close-up of a woman holding a contact lens at the tip of her finger doing the side view test to check if the lens is are inside out.

Testing Your Contact Lenses

If you believe your eye discomfort is coming from improperly worn contact lenses, you can run a few tests to see if they’re inside out.

The Side View Test

This might be the simplest method for determining if your contact lenses are inside out, but it does take an eye for precise detail.

Simply place your contact lens on your finger with the open edge pointing up. Imagine you’re trying to perch a bowl on your finger. Next, hold the lens up to your eye and look at it from the side.

A proper lens should be a perfect cup. The edge will curve up and point to the sky. If your contact lens is inside out, you’ll notice a slight curve at the edge that creates a shape that is not unlike a rimmed bowl.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between the shapes, especially if you’ve been wearing the contact lens inside out for some time. But, as you become more experienced with contact lenses, you’ll recognize what a proper contact lens should look like, and this test will become easier.

The Taco Test

Unfortunately, you won’t find any food here. Instead, this method involves placing the contact lens between the tips of your index finger and thumb. Make sure you grip near the center, so the edge has space to show its shape.

Gently squeeze the lens, and it’ll begin to fold in half. The edge of the lens should point upwards, looking like a taco, as the name of this method implies. However, an inside-out contact lens will bend outwards toward your thumb and index finger.

Checking the Edge Tint

This method only works on certain brands of contact lenses. Figuring out if contact lenses are inside out can be tricky, so some manufacturers help by giving you a sign. One such way is by tinting the inside edge of the contacts.

To begin this method, place the contact lens on your finger like you would in the side view test. This time, look at it directly from above. Depending on the brand, you may see a blue or green ring around the edge.

Your lens is fine if this ring is vibrant and clear in color. But if it’s pale, then the lens is likely inside out. Try this on a lens you already know is the correct orientation, such as one just out of the package, to ensure you know what color you’re looking for.

The Marking Test

Some contact manufacturers take a different approach to help you solve this problem. Instead of colored edges, they have laser markings. This marking might differ depending on the brand, such as a “123” along the edge of the lens.

Once again, place your contact lens on your finger as you did in the side view test. Hold the lens up to a bright light and scan the outside surface for the marks. Each manufacturer puts it in a different place, so you may need to look it over a few times.

Once you find the numbers, make sure they’re in the correct order. For example, “123” indicates that your contact is oriented correctly, while backward numbers indicate that your contact is inside out.

Taking Care of Your Contact Lenses

Whatever test you use to determine if your contact lenses are inside out, ensure you properly clean the contact before replacing it. Make sure your hands are clean before ever touching your eye, rinse your contact lens with multipurpose contact lens solution, and replace the lens once you’re sure it’s not inside out anymore.

Finding the Right Contact Lenses for You

Millions of people have chosen to wear contact lenses, but they can take time to get used to. Putting your contact lens on inside out is a common problem, but an easily solved one.

Your contact lenses should be comfortable and if for any reason they’re not, contact us at The Eye Gallery. We offer contact lens exams and fittings that can ensure you get the perfect lenses for you—as long as they’re not inside out.

Written by Dr. Megan Baldwin

As a Kansas native (born and raised in Kingman), Dr. Baldwin is thrilled to practice what she loves so close to home. She can’t imagine anything better than to care for her community and build strong ties with new friends and colleagues.

When She’s not in the office caring for her patients, Dr. Baldwin enjoys making memories with her husband, Aaron, and two sweet kids, Parker and Stella! You’ll often find her playing piano, hosting her friends and family in her home, or out for a run. Dr. Baldwin and her husband enjoy traveling to warm places and recently became open-water scuba diver certified!

She chose eye care as her career because Dr. Baldwin has always wanted to help people. The quality of care she provides is incredibly important to her. In an age where doctors spend just a few minutes with their patients, she is proud to give her patients the time and diligence they deserve. More than to simply “see” you, Dr. Baldwin wants to learn more about you and how she can best serve your needs. Your relationship matters.

Dr. Baldwin invites you to make an appointment for yourself or your children, whether you have an eye concern or are simply seeking an updated corrective lens prescription. She will always do her best to provide you the best eye care available anywhere in Wichita.

Professional Associations & Memberships

  • Member, Kansas Optometric Association (KOA)
  • Member, American Optometric Association (AOA)
  • Member, Business Networking International (BNI)


  • Bachelor of Science (chemistry) – Bethel College, 2007
  • Doctor of Optometry – Northeastern State University, Oklahoma College of Optometry, 2011
    • Graduated Magna Cum Laude
    • Member of the Beta Sigma Kappa honor society
    • Presented with “Outstanding Clinician in Ocular Disease” award
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