Cleaning your contact lenses
Taking proper care of your contact lenses is essential not only for keeping on top of your own eye health but ensuring that your lenses remain comfortable throughout their wear time.
Cleaning your contacts regularly is an important daily routine for certain types of contact lenses! It helps to remove dirt, debris and bacteria but also reduces the risk of infections and/or other complications. Let’s take an in-depth look at how and why cleaning contact lenses is so important.
Types of Contact Lenses That Should Be Cleaned
Before getting into the cleaning process, it's important to know which types of contact lenses require regular cleaning. Generally, contact lenses can be broken down into 4 main categories:
- Daily disposable contact lenses
- Two weekly disposable contact lenses
- Monthly disposable contact lenses
- Extended wear contact lenses
Daily disposable contact lenses and extended wear contact lenses do not require daily cleaning and storing.
However, it is still a good idea to know how to clean and store your lenses. You should also be sure to clean your lenses carefully whenever a foreign object or substance comes into contact with your eyes, also if you go swimming or use a hot tub it is best to remove and store your contact lenses, if you forget to take the lenses out, you should clean them thoroughly as soon as possible afterwards.
Two weekly and monthly disposable contact lenses have been designed to be worn daily and then cleaned and stored overnight so that they remain clean and healthy for 14 or 30 days of wear.
Different types of contact lenses will require different care, so you should discuss your cleaning regime with your optometrist. Also be sure to read the instructions provided with the lenses.
The Importance of Cleaning Contact Lenses
Contact lens cleaning isn't just a question of keeping your contact lenses dirt-free, it's also vital for maintaining good ocular health.
Every day, we are exposed to dirt, dust, fungi and bacteria in the air around us. If these things end up in our eyes, they can cause problems such as discomfort, inflammation, ulceration or even infection.
Contacts can slowly accumulate a build-up of protein and calcium that comes from your tears. This can cause the lenses to become cloudy, thus impairing vision. t can also stop the flow of oxygen to your eyes, which can cause other eye-health problems.
One rare but serious condition, acanthamoeba keratitis is caused by a microscopic organism and is usually found in contact lens wearers who have not kept their lenses adequately clean. This illness can lead to severe pain, and in the most acute conditions could require surgical treatment.
Cleaning Contact Lenses with a Multipurpose Contact Lens Solution
Multipurpose solutions are designed to streamline the cleaning process and can be helpful when it comes to a wide range of actions such as cleaning, rinsing, disinfecting and ultimately storing contact lenses. See below for a step-by-step guide on how to clean your contact lenses using a multipurpose solution:
- Wash your hands: First step of the process, you need to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, then dry them with a lint-free towel to prevent any contamination of dirt or bacteria when it comes to handling your lenses.
- Remove one lens: Gently remove one lens from your eye, taking care so that you don’t touch the lens with your fingernails.
- Place the lens in your palm: Hold the lens in the palm of your hand, cupping it slightly to form a tiny bowl.
- Apply the solution: Pour a quite generous amount of multipurpose solution onto the lens so that the lens is completely submerged in the solution you just poured.
- Clean the lens: Gently rub the lens with your index finger in a circular motion for approximately twenty seconds. This will help remove any dirt or debris from its surface.
- Rinse the lens: After cleaning, you should rinse the lens with more multipurpose solution, ensuring that all traces of debris are removed.
- Store the lens: Place the lens in a clean contact lens case filled with fresh multipurpose solution. Again you should make sure the lens is fully submerged in the solution.
- Repeat the process: Repeat the exact same cleaning process described above but now for the other lens, making sure to always use fresh solution for each lens.
- Replace the solution daily: Get rid of the used solution in the case and refill it with fresh solution each and every single time you clean your lenses.
Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaning Solutions
We never recommend using a hydrogen peroxide system, with modern multi-purpose solutions, the process of cleaning and storing your lenses has become quicker and safer.
If you have allergies to any of the ingredients in multi-purpose solutions your eye care professional may recommend a Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaning system, if so, make sure you read all the warning labels and follow the instructions you have been given completely with no shortcuts.
You should never let hydrogen peroxide come in contact directly with your eyes or contact lenses, as hydrogen peroxide can cause stinging, burning, and damage to the cornea of your eye if not neutralised.
Taking the time to clean your contact lenses properly really is essential for keeping on top of your eye health and also prolonging the life of your lenses. A double win!
Before deciding on the type of contact lenses you want to wear bear in mind the time and attention they will require to keep them clean and healthy. If you do not want to spend time cleaning and caring for lenses then maybe daily disposables or extended wear contact lenses are the best choice for you.
Always consult your eye care professional if you have any concerns or questions whatsoever about cleaning your contact lenses.
Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 21 Apr 2023, Last modified: 20 Feb 2024