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alternatives for contact lens solution

Alternatives for contact solution

Ever considered alternatives for contact solution? Let’s say you have had a long day, wearing your contact lenses and now you want to take them out and give your tired eyes a rest. You are ready to wear your spectacles for the hour or so before bed, as advised by your optometrist, but no matter how hard you look, you cannot find your contact lens solution. 

What do you do? Keep them in while you sleep and buy some more contact lens solution in the morning? Perhaps you should store them in some water? Or should you store them in saliva (which some people have sworn by, apparently)?

No, to all of the above. Particularly to the saliva thing. 

The problem is that contact lenses get grimy very quickly. After a long day in the eyes, there are dust particles, make-up particles and many other types of debris that get stuck to the soft, gel surface. Many types of microorganisms can all accumulate on them and if not properly cleaned, these can cause eye infections.  

What is contact lens solution?

Contact lens solution is a liquid mixture/chemical solution that not only stores but also disinfects contact lenses. Regardless of the hundreds of brands on the market, all of them contain a preservative, binding agent, buffer and a surfactant or wetting agent.

The solution keeps the lenses sterile and removes the debris that has accumulated over wear-time. Be sure to change the solution with each wear, as any muck will be washed off and left behind in the solution once you reinsert the contact lenses. 

Temporary alternatives for contact solution

It is very important to note that contact lenses are best stored in only official contact lens solution. But in a pinch (like a definite emergency) you can mix your own home solution. Any home solution must be for short-term use, such as if you need a quick fix overnight, use the homemade solution, then acquire a proper contact lens solution the next day. Rinse the contact lenses with the proper contact lens solution before putting your contact lenses back into your eyes. 

Store your contact lenses as you normally would in distilled water, says Woodhams Eye.  

Unlike tap water, distilled water is free from the virus acanthamoeba keratitis. 

However, there is still a risk that you can get an infection, so make sure that you only use it for short periods. 

How do you make distilled water?

Water is distilled by boiling it, then collecting the steam and using the vapor to create condensation. The condensation that is created is purified water, as many of the bacterias found in the water do not survive when the water is turned into gas. This means that the water made from the vapour is pure. It won’t contaminate or dry out your contact lenses.

Store your contacts as you normally would. There is a high risk of contracting acanthamoeba keratitis, but the salt will kill most of the bacteria, so it’s still not as risky as tap water, the site continues.

Rinse your contact lenses off using the contact lens solution before putting them back in. You must clean your lenses with contact solution before you put them back in your eyes to ensure they are sterile and to prevent infection.

Other alternatives for contact solution: Saline!

Most people have a saline solution at home; either from nasal spray or to clean babies’ eyes. Saline is one of a few alternatives for contact solution as a temporary storage liquid to keep contact lenses hydrated and lubricated. This solution is the safest option to store contact lenses as it won’t scratch your contacts or harm your eyes, but it will not kill all the bacteria that is on the lenses. 

Saline solution is typically made with boiled water. Add ½ a teaspoon of salt into a pot with a lid and boil for 15 minutes. 

Allow the solution to cool completely before use. Saline has a shelf life, so discard it if it looks cloudy or dirty after a while.

What happens to contact lenses that have been improperly stored?

Not practising proper hygiene while handling contact lenses can lead to eye infections. Eye infections can lead to permanent damage to many parts of the eye.

Also, over time, contact lenses get worn down. Scratched up lenses mean scratchy eyes.

Besides using a proper contact lens solution, make sure to wash your contact lens case each day with clean water. Debris can get stuck on the top lids that screw atop the case. 

There is also a product called contact lens cleaner (which shouldn’t be confused with the actual solution, if you put the cleaner into your eye, it will sting!)

Most important, wash your hands whenever you handle your contact lenses. Your hands are naturally oily and there are loads of germs on your fingertips. Be sure to use soap and water and scrub your hands for at least a minute to ensure clean, sanitary fingers. 

Can over-wearing contact lenses damage the eyes?

You should also only wear your contact lenses for a short amount of time each day. The longest you should wear them is 12 hours at a time. Contact lenses cover the cornea; the part of the eye that breathes. This decreases the amount of oxygen that reaches your eyes and oxygen supply is essential for keeping your eyes healthy.

You also may want to choose modern silicone hydrogel contact lenses, suggests All About Vision. These soft lenses are made of a material that transmits more oxygen than conventional soft contact lens materials.

Rigid gas-permeable (GP) contact lenses also allow more oxygen to reach the eye. Gas permeable contacts are smaller in diameter than soft or silicone hydrogel lenses and therefore cover less of the cornea.

Affinity Health covers optic health with Specsavers!

Our day-to-day cover offers a benefit for optometry, which means that members can now get eye tests, spectacles and so much more. 

Affinity, in partnership with Specsavers, offers an annual eye test per beneficiary and free lenses and frames every 24 months. Services must be obtained from a network-registered optometrist. There is a limit on prescriptions for white standard mono or bifocal lenses with a basic frame.