To a lens wearer, the contact lens solution will be almost as important as the actual contact lenses – if they are wearing two-weekly disposables, monthly disposables, or extended wear lenses, that is. There are a number of different types of solutions out there, and an even larger number of different brands, so doing your research is important.
Your contact lens solution has three main tasks. It should clean your lenses so that they are comfortable and clear, and more than 90% of germs should be killed. As your contact lenses are easily infected by germs from everything around you, including your fingers and tap water, a solution should also disinfect your contacts to ensure that no unwanted bacteria reaches your eye and causes irritation. Finally, it should maximise the comfort of your lenses by acting as an additional wetting agent. Without solution, your contact lenses can dry out and lose their shape completely.
The most popular type of solution is multipurpose solution, which takes care of all of the above, primarily cleaning and disinfecting. Its popularity could be down to the fact that it is very easy to use and makes enzyme tablets for removing protein deposits redundant. Soaking your contact lenses in multipurpose solution, all you have to do is to rinse with saline solution before inserting them again. Saline solution does just that: it rinses the lens for you and keeps it hydrated. Never replace multipurpose solution with saline alone, as this is very similar to your tears and does not actually disinfect the lens.
Many wearers rub their lenses with their fingertip and a daily cleaner for about 20 seconds every day. This is a quick and easy way of keeping your contact lenses clean, but caution must be taken to avoid breaking the lens with a nail. Your lens case should get its fair share of scrubbing as well, as germs will spread fast in a dirty case. Rinse with solution every day and leave the case open to dry, and once a week or so, use a clean toothbrush to give it a proper scrub.
A hydrogen peroxide solution disinfects your contact lenses and can be used as one-step or two-step routines. For the two-step system, a Saline solution must be used afterwards to neutralise the effect and ensure that no peroxide remains in the lenses. An enzymatic cleaner can be used occasionally to remove any proteins that could cause discomfort. This type of cleaner comes as a tablet which is dropped into your solution and left to soak overnight, but some multipurpose solutions have a similar effect built-in, making the tablets unnecessary.
Daily disposable contact lenses don’t need any cleaning as they are thrown out at the end of every day. It is a myth that the durability of daily lenses can be extended thanks to a thorough cleaning regime, as contact lens solutions are not actually made for these types of lenses.
Your optician will prescribe you with a solution that suits your eyes and contact lenses. The type of solution they recommend will depend on the material of the lens you wear, how often you replace your lenses, and any allergies you may have. You should always follow your optician’s advice as the wrong solution could cause discomfort and irritation. Never re-use or top up old solutions, and always follow instructions carefully. Keep the tip of the solution container closed, replace your solution regularly, and avoid contact with water at all cost.
Why, when you have paid for high-quality contact lenses, would you be stingy about the minor cost of keeping them, and your eyes, healthy and clean? Or, as ACLM put it, you wouldn’t put a piece of plastic into any other part of your body without disinfecting it first, would you?
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