I'm a registered nurse and nutrition enthusiast. I love spreading information to encourage people to improve their health and their lives.
If you are a regular soft contact lens wearer, you probably love the convenience of not having to wear glasses, but hate the hassle of having to buy expensive contacts. Eye doctors are constantly reminding us to change our contacts regularly, but the reality is that many people use their disposable contact lenses for longer than they are supposed to. After a certain amount of time, contacts can build up with proteins and bacteria, making them uncomfortable and dangerous for your eyes. Dirty contact lenses can put you at a risk for infection, protein buildup, or even getting a scratch on your eye. Here are some tips for making sure your contact lenses stay as clean as possible—for as long as possible.
Tip #1 - Wash Your Hands!
Never underestimate the power of washing your hands! Hand-washing is recognized as the single best way to prevent infection, and that includes eye infections as well. Your hands and fingernails harbor more bacteria than you realize, and every time you touch your contact lenses, you are depositing that dirt and bacteria onto the lenses (and ultimately, your eyes).
Using soap and warm water, rub your hands in circular motions for 30 seconds before rinsing. Next, either let your hands air dry or use a lint-free towel to prevent tiny pieces of lint from getting on the contact and into your eye.
Tip #2 - Rub Your Contacts Daily
Many contact solutions are labeled as “no rub,” meaning you do not have to rub your contacts to help clean them. However, a big part of cleaning anything (from hands to contact lenses) is friction. This is why you should rub your contacts even if the contact solution says you do not have to. Friction will help loosen built up dirt, bacteria, and protein.
Using a multi-purpose contact solution, place the contact in your palm and rinse. Using one finger, gently rub the contact several times starting from the center and going outward. Do this on both sides of the contact, but avoid folding the contact in half. Rinse again with the contact solution.
Tip #3 - Use a Good Multi-Purpose Solution
For regular contact lens cleaning, get a daily sterile multi-purpose solution for cleaning, rinsing, and storing. A multi-purpose solution will help remove bacteria, dirt, and protein buildup. This is the solution you should use for rubbing your contacts (even if it says “no rubbing necessary!”).
Tip #4 - Use a Hydrogen Peroxide Cleansing System
Other types of contact lens cleaner solutions use hydrogen peroxide that is neutralized over 6 hours in a special case. An example is the Clear Care 3% Hydrogen Peroxide Cleansing and Disinfecting Solution. The hydrogen peroxide is effective for deeper cleaning of contact lenses and for effectively removing dirt and film. The disc at the bottom of the special case forms bubbles that brush past the contact lenses toward the top. This aids cleaning by adding more friction (similar to rubbing).
Warning: These hydrogen peroxide cleansing systems should be used only with the special contact lens case that comes with the solution. Putting the solution directly in your eye will cause burning! The tip of the solution bottle should be bright red as a reminder that it is not meant for direct contact with your eyes. When using this solution, your contacts need to stay in the special case for 6 hours before they are safe to put in your eyes.
Even with this type of cleansing system, it is still a good idea to have a multi-purpose solution for rubbing and rinsing before you put your contact in. If you are taking out your contacts for less than 6 hours, use the multi-purpose solution for storing instead of the hydrogen peroxide solution.
Tip #5 - Use a Daily Protein Remover
The most effective way to remove protein buildup from your soft contact lenses is to use an enzymatic daily protein remover, such as Alcon Opti-Free Supra Clens Daily Protein Remover. For this product, you only add one drop to each side of your contact lens case, along with your multi-purpose solution. The protein remover comes in a small bottle (3mL), but since you are only using 2 drops per day, it will last a long time.
Warning: Like the hydrogen peroxide solution, the protein remover should not be used directly in your eye. It should soak with your contacts and the multi-purpose solution for 6 hours. The Supra Clens bottle also has a red tip as a reminder that it should not go directly in your eyes..
Take Care of Your Eyes!
Remember that your contact lenses are only supposed to be used for a certain amount of time, and for good reasons. Over time, contact lenses can wear down and will not be as effective. This also makes them tear more easily and puts you at a risk for eye infection or even vision problems. Always listen to the advice of your eye doctor, and only try to make your contact lenses last longer when absolutely necessary!
Contact Lens Cleaning Steps:
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
AnniesHealthTalk (author) from United States on August 02, 2012:
@courtyB3 - Wow, I didn't know gas permeable lenses last that long! How do they feel compared to soft contacts?
Courtney B from New Jersey on August 02, 2012:
Great topic choice. I don't use soft lenses anymore and have switched to gas permeable ones because they help stop my vision from changing so quickly and I can wear them for up to a year before I need a new pair and I can wear them to sleep. But i do remember the frustration of soft lenses in my younger days.
AnniesHealthTalk (author) from United States on August 01, 2012:
@Sherry Hewins - Thanks so much! :)
Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on August 01, 2012:
You did a really thorough job of describing all the steps in taking care of contact lenses. I don't even wear them but I read the whole thing. Voted up and shared.
AnniesHealthTalk (author) from United States on August 01, 2012:
Thanks for reading, commenting and voting!
Tiffany on August 01, 2012:
These are great tips for people who wear soft contact lenses! Voted up and useful!