Unlike eyeglasses, contact lenses lay directly on your eye to help you see clearer. These lenses can either be soft or hard. Soft contact lenses are the most popular because they are more comfortable to wear than hard ones. This eyewear is generally safe as long as you wear and take care of them properly. Part of proper contact lens care is using the recommended solution by your eye doctor.
A local eye clinic shares essential things you need to know about contact lens solutions.
What’s In Your Contact Lens Solution?
One of the primary functions of contact lens solutions is to disinfect lenses. The disinfectant in the solution removes germs, bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms that can cause infection. The most common ingredients in contact lenses with disinfecting effects include hydrogen peroxide, boric acid, and ascorbic acid.
Like in food, preservatives in contact lenses keep them fresh and effective longer. They make your contact lens solution last longer, so you can consume it even before its expiration date.
Contact lens solutions also act as a surfactant. If you live in an area where there is a lot of dust, the more you will need a contact lens solution with an effective surfactant additive. This component cleanses buildups on the surface of your contacts. Because it is mildly abrasive, it helps remove sediments without scratching the surface of the lenses. Enzymatic cleaners also help dissolve any leftover protein and tissue on the surface of contact lenses that can cause different types of eye diseases.
Your contact lenses need to stay moisturized for them to remain soft. An effective wetting agent gradually releases throughout the day. It is why some types of contact lens solutions suggest washing your contacts more frequently throughout the day. Your eyes are less likely to experience strain when your lenses are moisturized.
What Are the Different Types of Contact Lens Solution?
A multipurpose solution is used for cleaning and disinfecting contact lenses. They do the job quickly and are cost-effective, making them popular. Before handling your contacts and cleaning them with a multipurpose solution, make sure to wash your hands first.
While some call this type of solution a “no-rub” system, experts still recommend rubbing the lenses for at least 10 seconds using your fingers. Doing so ensures there is no leftover debris on the lenses. It is also advisable to place a drop of saline in each lens to rinse it before putting it back in your eye. Multipurpose contact lens solutions come in various types, so be sure to choose the right one for your contacts.
Hydrogen Peroxide Solution
You will need to spend more time cleaning your contact lenses with a hydrogen peroxide-based solution. It is a preservative-free type of solution, ideal for individuals who are sensitive or allergic to chemicals. Hydrogen peroxide contact lens solutions usually cost more than multipurpose solutions. This solution is great at disinfecting lenses, but it can sting or burn your eyes. After disinfecting your contacts, you should neutralize this solution. Neutralizing this solution will change it into plain saline.
Place your contacts inside a small case filled with this solution and soak for six to eight hours. Depending on the type of hydrogen peroxide solution, disinfection can be a one or two-step process. One-step products usually have a built-in neutralizer in the case. Meanwhile, two-step products require you to use a neutralizing tablet to the solution after cleaning the lenses. Be careful not to forget to add the neutralizer.
Never reuse or top off hydrogen peroxide solution after you have neutralized it. After neutralizing this type of solution, you cannot use it for disinfecting anymore. Dry your case thoroughly in between uses because bacteria can grow on damp surfaces. Your eye care specialist may suggest replacing your case every month or at least every three months to minimize the risk of infection.
Daily Cleaners and Enzymatic Protein Removers
Daily cleaners are only for cleaning lenses and not disinfecting them. Cleaners loosen and remove debris from your lenses. Simply place a few drops in your palm and gently rub the lenses as long as the instructions say on both sides. You will still need to use a multipurpose solution for rinsing the cleaner, disinfecting, and storing your contacts.
Moreover, enzymatic protein removers get rid of deposits that build up in your contacts over time. Your eye doctor may recommend using a product to remove buildup, depending on the type of your contacts. These removers may come in liquid or tablet forms and are used weekly or daily, depending on the product. Be sure to consult your eye care provider before using enzymatic protein removers.
Rigid Gas Permeable Care Systems
Rigid gas-permeable or hard contact lenses require different care systems than soft contacts. They usually need various solutions for wetting, cleaning, and disinfecting. People who wear hard contact lenses should discuss the ideal care system for them with their eye doctor. Do not use solutions meant for rigid gas permeable lenses on soft contact lenses.
More Tips to Help You Care for Your Lenses
Always Follow Your Eye Doctor’s Recommendations
Follow your eye doctor’s recommended schedule for wearing and disposing of your lenses. It’s the same for when you need to get a contact eye exam. Over time, contact lenses can warp, and your cornea can also change in shape, making it essential to get regular eye examinations. Routine eye checks help ensure your contacts fit you properly and you have the right prescription.
Always adhere to the directions from your eye specialist and the contact lens manufacturer when disinfecting, cleaning, and storing the lenses. If you have not used your lenses for a long time and left it in the case, check the instructions to determine if you should re-disinfect them before use. However, if your contacts have been in storage for more than 30 days without re-disinfecting, it is not advisable to wear them.
Never wear your contact lenses when showering, swimming, using a hot tub, or going anywhere near a body of water. There are infection-causing bacteria and microorganisms in the water that can get into your contact lenses and eyes. Also, keep in mind that daily wear contact lenses are not meant for you to sleep in.
Clean and Rewet Your Contact Lenses Properly
Before touching your contact lenses, thoroughly wash your hands and dry them with a lint-free cloth. No matter what type of contact lens solution you are using, always use the “rub and rinse” cleaning method. Rub the lenses with clean fingers and rinse them with the solution recommended by your eye doctor before soaking them.
Never use saliva to wet your contact lenses because it is not sterile. Also, do not rinse your lenses in water or homemade saline solution. It is the same for using saline solution or rewetting drops for disinfecting your lenses because they are not disinfectants.
Every time you clean and disinfect your lenses, you should use a fresh solution. Do not pour your contact lens solution into a different container as it will not be sterile anymore. The tip of the solution bottle should not touch other surfaces as well. Make sure to keep the bottle sealed or closed tightly when not in use.
Do Not Forget About Your Contact Lens Case
Keep your contact lens case clean at all times. Regularly rinse it with sterile contact lens solution and never with tap water. Leave the empty case open and let it air dry. Experts recommend replacing it for three months and immediately if it gets damaged.