How to Clean Contact Lenses

How to Clean Contact Lenses

“I’m looking for contact lenses near me, but I’m not sure how to take care of them.” We hear this a lot. Taking good care of your contact lenses safeguards your eyes against pathogens, irritants, infections, and disease. Hygiene is important when it comes to maintaining your contacts. So is following the instructions that your lens care provider gives to you. There are plenty of options for cleaning contact lenses on the markets, but they are not all the same. This guide will help you learn how to properly clean and care for your contact lenses to maintain optimal eye health.

Cleaning Contact Lenses: The Basics

No matter what type of lenses you have or what kind of solution you use, you should follow the guidelines below when handling your contacts.

1. Wash Your Hands

Your hands can carry millions of bacteria. When you handle your lenses, you can transfer those germs to your eyes. Before you insert or remove your lenses, wash your hands with an oil-free soap and dry them with a clean, lint-free towel.

2. Don’t Reuse Contact Lens Solution

Don’t soak your contacts in the solution that you stored them in the night before. Always use fresh solution to cleanse and store your lenses.

3. Clean and Store Your Case Properly

After you have inserted your contacts, clean the case with fresh solution. Leave it upside down in a clean area to dry. Don’t keep your contact case near the toilet or in a humid bathroom. If you do, pathogens and mildew can develop on the surface.

4. Keep the Solution in its Original Container

You might be tempted to transfer cleaning solution from a larger container to a trial-size bottle when traveling. This is a bad idea. Contact lens solution bottles are designed for sterility. When you pour it into a different container, you could introduce pathogens. You should also keep the solution container tightly closed when you’re not using it and avoid touching the dispensing area.

5. Replace the Lens Case Regularly

Even if you clean your contact case every day, you should replace it every three months or so. As buildup develops in the old case, it is more likely to attract germs.

6. Soak for the Recommended Amount of Time

Most contact lens solutions will indicate how long you should soak your contacts in them. This time frame is generally 4 hours. However, some solutions, such as hydrogen peroxide options, require you to soak your contacts for 6 hours.

Consider soaking your new contacts in a multipurpose solution before inserting them into your eyes. The liquid in the blister package is typically a saline solution, which does not include a disinfectant. Although it may be safe to insert contacts directly from the package into your eyes, you’ll get better results by soaking them in a case with a multipurpose solution for 6 to 8 hours first. You should also do this if your new contacts sting when you put them in without soaking them first.

Types of Contact Lens Solutions

There are different types of contact lens cleaning solutions. Some are intended to be used with specific types of contacts. Always read the label and instructions before handling contact lens solution.

Multipurpose Solution

A multipurpose solution designed for soft contact lenses is an all-in-one cleaning and storage option. You can use it to rinse, disinfect and soak your contacts. The instructions on these solutions usually indicate that the user must rub the lens with the solution after removal and before storage.

The Food and Drug Administration has also approved some no-rub multipurpose solutions. Although many contact lens wearers think that they can simply remove their contacts and store them in this type of solution, they are neglecting a crucial step. Most of the instructions for no-rub solutions recommend rinsing the contact lenses with the liquid after removing them and before storing them in the case.

Hydrogen Peroxide Solution

Hydrogen peroxide solutions work with a neutralizer. The hydrogen peroxide bubbles up and cleans the lenses. The neutralizer transforms the solution into water and oxygen, which makes it harmless to insert into your eyes once the cleaning and storing process has been completed.

It’s important to follow the instructions for these types of solutions. Some are approved to work with soft as well as rigid gas permeable contacts. Many have a neutralizer in the case, which makes cleaning and neutralizing a one-step process. Others require you to add a tablet to the solution to neutralize it. If you don’t neutralize the hydrogen peroxide, it can harm your eyes.

Rigid Gas Permeable Contact Solution

Some solutions are designed specifically for rigid gas permeable lenses. These contacts tend to develop protein deposits on the surface because they are worn for longer periods than soft contacts. Again, it’s vital to follow the instructions, which may involve a one or two-step cleansing process.

Can You Use Saline Solution to Clean Your Contacts?

Saline solution is made of pH-balanced saltwater. It’s designed to be gentle on your eyes when you use it as a rinse before inserting your contacts.

However, the saline solution does not contain disinfectants or cleansing agents. Therefore, you should not use it to clean or store your lenses.

Most users don’t need to use saline solution. Multipurpose cleaning systems can often be used for rinsing, which eliminates the need for saline liquid. Still, some multi-step contact solutions come with saline liquid. Follow the instructions to use this correctly.