Proper lens cleaning and disinfection is critical for healthy and comfortable contact lens wear. Just because the packaging says “ultimate lens cleaner” or “no-rub lens solution”, does not mean that any contact lens care system will do. There are hundreds of different brands of soaps and shampoos, each containing different ingredients for different skin and hair types – contact lens solutions are just as varied. Particularly in recent times, the contact lens market has been inundated with brand after brand of lens solution. It can be difficult to know where to start. Nonetheless, proper lens cleaning and disinfection is critical for healthy and comfortable contact lens wear. Lack of care and cleaning or improper cleaning of your contact lenses can lead to irritation, fluctuating vision, and increased risk for eye infections.
In response to growing market pressure for simpler contact lens care systems, a number of manufacturers have developed lens solutions where cleaning, disinfection and protein removal comes in a single bottle. However, not all solutions are created equally. It is believed that nearly one in three contact lens wearers may be buying generic (mass merchandiser) multipurpose soft lens care solutions. These are often old, obsolete formulas that are more likely to cause adverse reactions. They provide less cleaning action and less lens hydration. If you have lapsed into buying these products, which can change formulation from month to month (depending on the lowest bidder), it is best to stop. To provide optimum eye health and superior comfort with contact lens wear, it is best to have your eye doctor recommend an appropriate care system. The decision will be based on your wearing schedule, tear quality/quantity, and your predisposition to protein deposits. Only use what he/she recommends, and do not switch brands without asking first. If you think you are going to forget the name/brand of solution, have your eye care practitioner write it down for you. Some other points to consider and remember:
- Never use a product beyond its expiry date, and some experts recommend discarding the solutions a month after opening.
- The top of the bottled product should not come into contact with hands or the lenses in question, as this leads to contamination of the remainder of the solution.
- Some people are under the impression that using their saliva as an alternative is an option. It is not! In fact, saliva contains levels of bacteria that can lead to eye infection.
- You should never rinse any contact lens with water, distilled or not. Water can harbor a parasite known as Acanthamoeba that can cause severe eye infections, which can lead to blindness.
- The ingredients contained in lens solutions vary considerably, and as a result different brands and types should not be mixed.
To find out the differences between various contact lens solutions and what is best for you, talk with your eye care practitioner.