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Contact Lenses: The Perfect Solution

You have contact lenses, but you don't like taking care of them. Who does? Still, if you don't take good care of your contacts, you run a serious risk of getting an infection - not fun. Most contacts need to be cleaned and disinfected either daily or weekly. In some cases, you can get away with wearing the lens for an entire month, but these are generally disposable lenses.

Why Clean and Disinfect?

The Whole point of disinfection is to reduce the number of microorganisms that accumulate on the lenses with wear. Really, you're just trying to minimise the risk of infection - which is somewhat considerable with all contact lens types. Cleaning solutions can also improve comfort of the lens surface, making it more wettable.

In most cases, part of the cleaning process is a "rub and rinse" process which physically removes any debris that's left on the lens. This is an important step for reducing the risk of scratching your eye with a dirty lens. It sounds almost too simple, but it's the simple stuff that usually gets you.

Types of Solutions

There are several types of solutions on the market, with companies like NextDayLenses stocking almost everything imaginable. Not all solutions are compatible with one another, though, so it's important that you not mix solutions together.

For example, a multipurpose solution is the simplest one out there. It's designed to let you clean, rub, rinse, and store your contacts. Usually, you have to store them for about 4-6 hours to disinfect them.

Then, there's hydrogen peroxide solutions. H2O2 is a strong oxidizer - not something you want to get in your eye. These cleaning solutions will incorporate a metallic disc, or a tablet, in the case to neutralise the solution before you put the contact in. With these types of solutions, disinfection time is around 6 hours. It's especially important to follow the instructions with these solutions as you can seriously damage your eyes if you don't.

Still other lens solutions use special cleaning drops and tablets. These are typically for gas permeable lenses (hard contacts). The cleaning kit will also come with comfort and re-wetting drops that can be used while the contacts are in. Sometimes, saline solutions are recommended for these, and other, lenses prior to wearing.

The saline cleans the lens before you put it into your eye, and doesn't require that you run the contact under tap water - which poses a risk for contracting a common amoeba found in municipal water supplies. Saline solutions should not be used, however, to store your lenses as they do not contain any disinfecting properties.

Caution

It can't be overstated - do not use tap water on your lenses. It seems harmless, but tap water contains numerous contaminates that are safe to drink but not safe to put into your eyes. For example, chlorine and chloramine are two chemicals that clean municipal water supplies.

It's safe to drink the small amounts in tap water, but they can irritate your eyes with constant exposure. There are also microorganisms that can cause an eye infection if you use tap water to rinse your lenses.  Finally, always use the type of solution recommended by your doctor, and always tell them about any problems you experience with your contacts immediately.

Richard Phillips is a retired optician of many years. He now spends his time fixing up his old house, and posting on various blog sites.