During normal wear, dirt, protein particles, and germs can get on contacts. Germs can cause serious eye infections that may lead to blindness. Proper cleaning of your contact lenses kills these germs. Cleaning also protects your eyes from irritation and removes substances that may shorten the life of the lens.
Gas permeable (GP) lenses require:
Soft lenses require solutions including:
In addition to cleaning your lenses to remove dirt and germs, your eye care provider may recommend enzyme cleaning to help remove protein deposits.
A multipurpose solution can be used to clean, rinse, disinfect, and store your contact lenses. You can clean your lenses, rinse for as long as directed, and disinfect with the same solution. With multipurpose solutions, no other lens care products are needed.
Hydrogen peroxide solutions can be used to clean, disinfect, rinse and store your contact lenses. This type of cleaning system has no preservatives, and is a good choice for people who are sensitive to multipurpose solutions. Hydrogen peroxide can sting, burn, and damage your eyes, so you must always use a neutralizer with peroxide disinfection. The neutralizer makes the peroxide safe. There are 2 ways to use hydrogen peroxide to clean your lenses. The One Step process neutralizes your lenses during the disinfecting stage, while the Two Step process neutralizes your lenses after the disinfecting stage.
Contacts must be cleaned and disinfected every time you take them out. If you have daily-wear or extended-wear soft contacts, clean and disinfect them every night. (Eye care providers recommend that all contacts be taken out before sleeping, even those called extended wear contacts.) Disposable contacts should be thrown away. Do not try to clean and reuse disposable lenses.
To clean and disinfect lenses properly, follow the instructions of your cleaning system carefully. Always handle your lenses gently (soft contacts can tear). Be sure to keep track of which is your right lens and which is the left. It helps if you always handle the right lens first.
Make sure that your solutions are clearly marked so that you do not confuse the different bottles. Some solutions can be irritating or harmful if they are put directly in the eye.
In general, you will be instructed to follow these steps:
Enzyme cleaning is the use of a special cleaning product to remove protein build up from soft contact lenses. Proteins can build up and damage your lenses and irritate your eyes. Enzyme cleaning can remove these proteins, but does not remove dirt and oils, and it does not kill germs. You also need to clean and disinfect your lenses with other products.
Usually you should do enzyme cleaning once a week, unless your eye care provider gives you different instructions. Use the enzyme cleaner on the same day each week to help you remember when to do it.
You need an enzyme cleaner approved by your eye care provider, two small plastic vials (which usually come packaged with the enzyme cleaner), and a sterile saline rinsing solution. It is not safe to use tap water with your enzyme cleaner. Tap water can be contaminated. Do not use distilled water instead of saline solution. Saline solution is safer for your lenses.
To use your enzyme cleaner properly, follow these steps:
Repeat steps 4 and 5 with the other lens.
Many contact lens care products are sold today. Solutions can contain different preservatives. If some lenses come in contact with more than one preservative, it can cause a chemical reaction. This can irritate your eye or discolor your contacts. Some contacts can get discolored if you switch to a product that uses hydrogen peroxide to clean the lenses. Even switching from one brand of hydrogen peroxide cleaner to another can damage your lenses. Using the wrong enzyme cleaner could damage or discolor your lenses.
Soft contact lenses are the most likely to have problems. But problems can also happen with GP contacts. For example, certain wetting or soaking solutions can make gas permeable lenses gummy.
Your eye care provider will advise certain products based on what is best for your contacts and safest for your eyes. Always check with your eye care provider before you switch contact lens solutions. Always read the labels on your contact lens solutions. Follow the instructions carefully.