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How To Tell if Contacts Are in the Wrong Eye

Having worn contact lenses for many years, I can tell you that there is nothing worse than not knowing if you accidentally put the wrong contact in the incorrect eye. I have wondered this many times but it’s pretty easy to figure out if you’ve made this mistake.

You can tell if contacts are in the wrong eye when they feel unusual and you experience eye strain or visual disturbances. Blurring of vision is most common when contacts are switched. Wearing contacts in the wrong eye can also cause headaches and even nausea, usually after the onset of eye strain.

The rest of this article will discuss in more detail what else you can do to tell if your contacts have ended up in the wrong eye. It’ll also address how you can avoid these switches in the future and if wearing contacts in the wrong eyes is harmful to your vision.

4 Ways To Test if Your Contact Lenses Are Switched

Cute eyeball cartoon applying contact lenses

Contact lens wearers often find themselves facing the dilemma of not knowing whether they’ve put their contact lenses on the correct eye. Some people experience a foreign body sensation when the wrong contact goes into their eye and feel the need to correct the error and relieve the strain, discomfort, or even pain caused by the switch. However, some people can’t tell the difference and may continue their day with their contact lenses switched up.

Luckily, if you find yourself in the predicament of being unsure of your contact lenses’ placement, you can perform a few quick tests recommended by opticians to help put your mind at ease. Here are four easy methods to help you determine if you’ve accidentally switched your contacts:

1. Test Your Eyes One at a Time

Focus your sight on an object 20 ft (6 meters) away and cover one eye at a time. If one eye seems more blurry than the other, try switching the contacts and repeat the test to see if the change makes an improvement.

2. Get a Feel for Your Contacts

Over time, your contacts will adapt to the specific contour of their respective eyes. Although the differences would be minor, wearing the wrong contact lens on the wrong eye would usually cause a “foreign body sensation” that indicates the contact isn’t where it belongs.

Some contacts need to settle before they feel comfortable; that’s why contact wearers usually blink several times to help center their contact lenses. When you get this sensation, don’t switch contact lenses right away. Give it some time to settle. If the discomfort persists, try switching lenses and see if that does the trick.

3. Focus on Some Fine Print

Contacts work to correct refractive errors in your eye, and if you’re wearing them correctly, you shouldn’t be having trouble reading or focusing on objects. One telltale sign that you’ve got your contacts wrong is if you’re having trouble reading fine print or focusing on objects. Pull out a credit card or something with smaller print to see if you can properly focus on the text. 

4. Check for Double Vision

Another optician-recommended test is to read glowing print, such as the blinking digits on a microwave. Check for shadow-like effects or the appearance of doubling. If this happens, there’s a high chance your contacts are in the wrong eye and in need of a switch.

What To Do When You Can’t Tell if Your Contacts Are in the Wrong Eye?

If you still can’t tell if your contacts are in the wrong eye after testing, your eyes may need a break from wearing them. It’s also possible that the contacts are dirty, or you may be in need of a new prescription. 

Since you can’t exactly just sit around wondering and exasperatedly switching back and forth between lenses until you’re positive they’re in the correct eye, here are some things you can do to help you get on with your day:

Give the Contact Lenses a Rest

Sometimes our eyes act up because they’ve gotten irritated from constantly wearing contacts. Despite their corrective purpose, they’re still foreign objects, and sometimes your body will treat them as such by tearing up, getting itchy–all nature’s way of letting you know you’ve got something in your eye that shouldn’t be there.

So try not wearing them for a day or two to give your orbits the rest they may need. The chances are high that you used prescription glasses before you got prescription contacts. Use those in the meantime. When your eyes feel better, you can try getting back to your lenses.

Take Your Contact Solution and Case With You When You Leave the House

Having your contacts in the wrong eyes doesn’t always cause a dreadful foreign body sensation immediately. Sometimes, it takes hours before the eye strain creeps in and confirms that you popped your contacts into the wrong sockets that morning. 

To help avoid the delayed consequences, keep the case and solution for your contacts handy throughout your day. When the eye strain-induced headache announces its arrival, you can do the old switch to see if this improves your situation.

Woman Pointing at Open Contact Lens Case
I am lost without my contact lens case

Inspect Your Contacts for Debris or Dirt

Sometimes, eye strain and other uncomfortable sensations are due to dirt or debris on the contacts.

It’s worth taking the time to get a closer look at your contacts to see if debris or dirt is sticking to them. Even if you don’t see anything that could be causing the irritation, give your contacts a good cleanse anyway to make doubly certain they’re dirt-free.

Check if Your Eyes Are Dry

Contacts will feel uncomfortable if they’re sitting on a dry eyeball. Occasionally, the unpleasant sensations you get from wearing contacts aren’t caused by the contacts but rather a case of dry eye. This usually results from poor water intake or temperatures in your area.

If this is the case, it’s best to keep your eyes moisturized with some saline washes or eye drops. If possible, it’s ideal for keeping the contact lenses out of your eyes until natural lubrication can be restored.

Does Wearing the Wrong Contacts Cause Any Eye Damage?

Wearing the wrong contacts won’t cause any serious or permanent eye damage right away. However, prolonged use of the wrong contacts could negatively impact your ability to function and go about your activities of daily living due to the eye strain and headaches that may result.

If eye strain and headaches persist for extended periods despite what you do with your lenses, it may be time to consider an appointment with your optician. They can check if your visual performance has deteriorated and if your contacts are still optimally fitted for your eyes’ specific needs. Such deterioration can occur naturally and isn’t necessarily caused by ill-fitted lenses.

Your optician may need to upgrade your prescription to optimize the corrective function of your contacts and hopefully put an end to the symptoms you’ve been experiencing.

Does Wearing Contacts in the Wrong Eye Affect Vision?

Woman Having Trouble Putting In Contact Lenses

Corrective contact lenses are prescribed for a reason: to correct refractive errors that could be causing visual difficulties or other symptoms, such as headaches that are often accompanied by nausea. Powered lenses correct the deficit of one or both eyes.

Wearing contacts in the wrong eye does affect vision. Eyes are strained when the lens power doesn’t match what the affected eye requires, causing your eyes to work harder. This can lead to difficulties in reading and focusing on objects and lower your inability to perform sight-dependent tasks. 

How To Prevent Mixing Up Your Contact Lenses?

To prevent mixing up your contact lenses, it helps to develop a routine of putting in and taking out your contacts in the same order. Only opening one lid on your contact case at a time is also an effective way to avoid accidentally switching your contacts.

Developing a Routine Can Help You Prevent Switches

Creating a mindful routine when putting on lenses can help you make a habit of getting your contact lenses on right. You can do this by choosing a specific eye to always do first. If you decide to do the right eye first, stick with it. Every time you put your lenses on after that, make a conscious effort to start with that eye until it becomes muscle memory.

Open One Lid on the Lens Case at a Time

Your contact case is usually labeled left or right to indicate where each contact lens goes. Sometimes it’s not the lenses you put into the wrong side of the case, but the lids get turned around. Being consistent with which eye you begin with prevents this. 

Don’t open the other lid until you’ve returned the lid of the first contact lens. It’s important to avoid opening both lids at the same time, as this is often where the confusion originates.


Switching up your contact lenses can be pretty annoying and disruptive to your daily routine when it causes eye strain and headaches. For some people, the discomfort is tolerable, while it can turn into a whole ordeal for others. Use the tips from this article to check if you think your contacts are in the wrong eye and focus on avoiding the mix-up altogether.

For more, check out 5 Handy Substitutes for Contact Lens Solution.