It can be challenging to tell if a soft contact lens is inside-out. For one thing, you need that contact lens to see in the first place, so being told to look closely at a small, clear, curved object to determine which way it’s facing is a particularly cruel irony. We get it. We’re sorry. We’re here to help.

First, if you’re already wearing your contact lens…

If you think your contact is in inside out, know that it won’t do any damage to your eye. Whew. However, it won’t fit as well on your eye’s surface. It will likely feel like it moves around more, is uncomfortable, or like you have something stuck in your eye. Other times it’s subtle and may only start to bother you after the lens has been in for a few hours. HEADS UP: an inside-out lens is also more likely to pop out of your eye.

Interestingly, in most cases an inside out lens will not make your vision significantly more blurry.

THREE TESTS TO TELL IF YOUR LENS IS INSIDE OUT

The mixing bowl vs saucer test


Place the lens on the end of your finger with all the edges up in the air to inspect the shape of the lens. If it looks like a mixing bowl (edges pointing straight up) you’re good to go. If it looks like a saucer (edges turn downward) it’s inside out. You may need to flip the lens back and forth to compare.

Protip: put a towel over your sink so if the lens falls, it’s easier to find.

The Taco Test


Tacos are delicious and can teach us many truths about life, including if your contact lens is inside out.

Start with the lens on the end of your finger with no edges touching the finger. Gently pinch/flex the lens. If it’s right-side out, the lens will flex easily and edges will fold toward each other like…wait for it…a taco. If it’s inside out, the lens will be more resistant to folding and the edges will curl outward at the top, like…not a taco.

The engraving test (AKA you’re desperate and/or a spy)


If mixing bowls and tacos haven’t helped you determine if your contact lens is inside out, we have one last thing you can try. It’s the act of a desperate man or woman. But if you’re at that point, read on.

Some soft contact lenses have small letters or numbers engraved on the edge of the lens. (We assume this is how spies transfer launch codes across borders.) Hold the lens on the end of your finger toward a light source. If you look just below the edge on the outside of the lens while rotating it, you may be able to see these markings. If they’re there. Will they be? Who knows? Only the NSA.

If the lens is right-side up, the letters and numbers will read correctly. If the lens is inside-out, the letters and numbers will be backwards. If the letters and numbers include hyphens, find your nearest fallout shelter.

And now that they’re right-side out, learn how to put in your contacts.

  1. Robby of Maui says:

    Very entertaining, yet very useful explanations! Just got my very first pair of monthly soft lenses, R side Toric (for correcting astigmatism on that side), L side Multivision. I fell in love w/ these @ first wearing because even though I love the sharp focus of RGP’s (which were my former pair), the new really comfortable soft lenses have kind of a suction cup characteristic on my eyeballs & DO NOT move around like RGP’s did while I swim on & under water (pool & ocean). Soft lenses are also WAY less expensive to replace if I happen to lose one or both due to any mishaps. (My Optometrist & I had a long discussion in this regard). RGP’s made more sense when I worked in a corporate office environment requiring sharp bifocal vision. Now that I’m happily retired & have more time for favorite water activities, soft lenses make more sense. Additionally, they strongly encourage me to wear them for most of my waking day without having to practice seemingly unrealistic caution not to damage or lose them. Oh, yes: And they stay moist & comfortable for a really long time!😎

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