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Choosing the contact lens solution that is right for your contact lenses and eyes can be a difficult task. There are many different types of contact lens solutions out there, and a wide variety of brands. So how could you know which solution is best for you, or whether you need one at all?
According to the Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers (ACLM), contact lens solutions should do three things, primarily. First and foremost, they should clean your contact lenses to ensure that they are as clear and comfortable as possible. Cleaning your contact lenses with the appropriate solution removes over 90% of germs. Secondly, contact lens solutions disinfect your contact lenses and lens case. Contact lenses are easily infected by germs from your hands, tap water and almost everything else around you, and your cleaning process prevents these germs from reaching your eye and causing trouble. Finally, a contact lens solution should act as an extra wetting agent, making your contact lenses even more comfortable to wear. Should you forget to leave your contact lenses soaked in solution over night, they may change shape and dry out. As ACLM put it, would you put any other piece of plastic in any other part of your body without disinfecting it regularly?
Your optician will advise you on the best contact lens solution for your needs. This will depend on what material your contact lenses are made of, how often you replace them, and whether you may have any allergies. Once your practitioner has prescribed you with a contact lens solution, don’t change it as this could damage both your contact lenses and your eyes.
There are as many different disinfecting regimes as there are contact lens wearers, but your optician will give you some advice as to what your should use your contact lens solution for. This may include rubbing or rinsing as well as soaking your contact lenses in contact lens solution in their case over night or for a specific amount of time. Never re-use disinfecting contact lens solution or top it up, the NHS warns, and always follow the instructions carefully.
According to the UK College of Optometrists, a contact lens case should be rinsed with contact lens solution and left open to dry every day. The lens case should be replaced monthly, as it can be a major source of infection. Using a clean toothbrush and your prescribed contact lens solution, give your lens case an extra thorough scrub once a week.
It is important to note that daily disposable contact lenses require no cleaning as they are only worn once and thrown away. Disinfecting these contacts will not make them more durable, as contact lens solutions are not made for them. Some contact lens wearers opt for daily disposable contacts in spite of the higher cost, and suggest that not having to pay for contact lens solution and clean their contacts every night makes it worth the additional cost.
The most popular type of contact lens solution is multipurpose solution, which is used for rinsing, disinfecting, cleaning and storing of your contact lenses. Multipurpose contact lens solutions are very easy to use, and they make protein removal enzyme tablets superfluous in most cases. Just soak your contact lenses in multipurpose solution and rinse with saline solution before inserting them into your eyes.
Saline contact lens solution is used to rinse your lens after cleaning to prepare it for insertion and keep it hydrated. This type of solution is very similar to your own tears, and hence does not disinfect the lens. Use a so called daily cleaner every day to rub the lens for about 20 seconds with a fingertip, taking care not to damage the lens with a fingernail.
Hydrogen peroxide contact lens solution disinfects your contact lenses, and should be used with Saline solution to complete the cleaning process. The hydrogen peroxide contact lens solution is available as a one-step or two-step system, with the neutralising effect of the Saline solution being absolutely essential at the end of the latter. Without Saline, peroxide will remain in the lens and find its way to your eye, which will be extremely painful.
Once a week, an enzymatic cleaner can be used for cleaning protein deposits off lenses to avoid various eye problems and discomfort. Enzymatic cleaners typically come in the form of tablets, and are only used if the daily cleaner is not sufficient. The tablets are dropped into your normal contact lens solution and, left overnight, get rid of all deposits.
If you are unsure, always check the product label to ensure that your contact lens solution can indeed be used for your specific type of lens, as some solutions are only suitable for specific contact lens materials. If you wear soft lenses, buy a contact lens solution suitable for soft contacts and vice versa. Never use water to clean your lenses, and make sure that the tip of your contact lens solution container is always closed when not in use. Since the preservative thiomersal, which in the past has caused problems for contact lens wearers, has been taken out of contact lens solutions, their shelf life has become shorter. For example, some preservative-free saline solutions can only be used for two weeks once opened. If in doubt, always replace your old contact lens solution with a fresh bottle.
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