There are three steps to cleaning your contact lenses. These three steps are Scrubbing, Storing, and Soaking. Each one of these methods requires a different contact lens solution, though all-in-one solutions are available.
Before washing your contacts, it’s important to know the different types of contact lens solutions to ensure that you use the right one for your needs.
Saline solution – Saline solution is designed to clean the lens by removing dirt, chemicals, and residue from other contact lens solutions. Saline solution’s primary purpose is for storage and to clean the lens before insertion, but not to be used as a disinfectant.
Hydrogen peroxide (or disinfecting) solution – Peroxide solution is designed for storage of your contact lens to remove unwanted buildup. While disinfecting in this solution overnight, the peroxide extracts bacteria and other elements from your contact that are known to cause eye infections like Conjunctivitis, or what’s commonly referred to as “pink eye.”
Multi-purpose solution – Multi-purpose solution combines daily cleanser with disinfecting solution. This solution is commonly the most used, because it can serve as a daily cleanser, and as an overnight storage to remove protein. Contact lens wearers that use the multi-purpose solution on a daily basis typically don’t have a need for the other solutions.
Enzyme cleaner/Protein remover – This solution removes protein buildup from the contact. This product can come in liquid or pill form, and both usually require to be used in combination with another solution.
Daily Cleanser – This solution is used to cleanse the contact prior to disinfection. It removes debris that might cause eye irritation and other discomforts. Daily cleanser is not recommended for storage.
Now that we’ve addressed the types of contact lens solutions, let’s start with the process of cleaning your contact lenses.
Step 1 – Scrubbing
This step should occur before you put the contact lens in your eye, and after you take it out. You should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before you begin. First, place the contact in the palm of your hand. Next, take your other hand and apply the contact lens solution to the contact until the contact is submerged in the solution. Then take your index finger, and gently rub the contact on both sides for 10-15 seconds. Be sure to scrub gently, scrubbing the contact lens too aggressively may cause the contact to tear and make it unsuitable for use.
Step 2 – Storing
After you have scrubbed both sides of the contact lens, place the contact inside a contact lens case and fill the reservoir up with contact lens soaking solution until the contact is completely submerged. Make sure that the lens is completely covered and not folded, or the soaking solution will not be able to reach all parts of the contact. Once the contact is in the case which is filled with solution, screw the case cap on securely. After the cap is screwed on, do not turn the case upside down or on its side. Doing so could cause the contact to slide out of the solution, and not be properly cleaned.
Step 3 – Soaking
Once your contacts are stored properly in the contact lens case, let them soak in the solution overnight or as directed. After soaking for the proper amount of time, your contacts should be free of dirt and debris, and ready to be placed into your eyes. If there is still dirt or debris on your contact lens, you can repeat step one before inserting the contact into your eye.
Also see: The Types of Contact Lenses.
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