It would seem natural to use tap water to clean your contact lenses, especially if you live in an area that has clean fresh water. Afterall, not only do we ingest fresh water, we swim in it and wash our bodies with it! We also use water to clean our clothes, our dishes, and our pets. Nonetheless, water and contact lens care do not mix. That’s why the best contact lens tips always keep water and contacts far apart. Here’s why.
Contact Lens Care Doesn’t Include Tap Water
The first rule you learn when getting contact lenses, is to never use tap water instead of contact solution. Never.
Tap water is full of bacteria and microorganisms. Although these are not harmful to your stomach, they often cause eye infections. Some microorganisms found in tap water even cause blindness.
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And remember, the job of contact solution is to clean and disinfect your contacts. Tap water does not disinfect your lenses. Using tap water enables harmful substances to grow on your contacts – sometimes in just a few minutes. Then, when you put the contacts on your eyes, the pathogens transfer to your eyes.
Due to pathogen transfer, doctors recommend the following as well:
- Do not go swimming while wearing contacts. This is true in pools, lakes, and the ocean.
- If you must wear contacts while swimming, always wear goggles for contact lens protection. Then, when finished, throw away your contacts and replace them with new lenses.
- Clean your contact lens case with contact solution rather than water. Always let the case air dry before closing it up. This will prevent bacteria from growing and getting into your eyes.
- Finally, replace your contact case every three months. Do not try to sterilize it on your own. The dishwasher or boiling water may not kill all the germs.
Stay Away From Filtered Water, Too
But what about filtered water? Purified water? Bottled water? Certainly, these waters do not contain microorganisms that hurt the eye? Unfortunately, they do — and, just like tap water, these filtered waters do not have the right ingredients for disinfecting your contact lenses.
Finally, and very importantly, contact lens solution contains properties that help your contact lenses maintain their shape. Using water leaves contacts feeling sticky and uncomfortable. You may even find that you have blurry vision. That’s because water has a drying effect on soft contact lenses. Isn’t it amazing that water can make something too dry?
Using water of any kind can lead to:
- Eye irritations
- Blurry vision
- Eye infections
- Vision loss
Most eye infections are effectively treated with antibiotics; however, some can lead to permanent vision loss. This is why it’s so important to clean and store your contacts exactly as directed. This means using the appropriate contact lens solution and never using water.
Never Put Contact Lenses in Your Mouth
The cardinal sin of contact lens wearing is wetting them in your mouth. Now that you know that water contains bacteria that is bad for your eyes, just imagine what is in your mouth! Although the bacteria in your saliva does not hurt your mouth, it has the potential to cause an infection in your eye.
That’s why doctors urge you to never put your contacts in your mouth. If your contacts bother you, take them out until you have the right solution for rinsing. It is better to throw away a pair of contacts than to get an infection caused from saliva.
Different Contact Lens Solutions
The only way to clean and disinfect contact lenses is with the proper contact lens solution. There are two main types of solutions:
- hydrogen peroxide, and
Hydrogen peroxide solutions are perfect for rubbing, rinsing, and storing. However, this type of solution requires neutralization because hydrogen peroxide will cause your eyes to burn and sting.
The reason many people use hydrogen peroxide solutions is due to allergies. If you are allergic or sensitive to contact lens solutions, then this may be your answer. However, many people dislike this type of solution because it requires the extra time and steps.
The multipurpose solution is an all-in-one solution. Contact wearers use this solution for all uses including:
No neutralization process is required because it doesn’t hurt the eyes, making it the most popular solution among those wearing contact lenses. Doctors often prefer this type of solution because the process is easier to comply with than the hydrogen peroxide process.
The process is simple:
- Wash hands thoroughly.
- Take out one contact lens.
- Pour some multipurpose solution in your palm.
- Put the lens in the solution.
- Using the tip of your finger, rub the lens thoroughly.
- Place lens into a clean case filled with multipurpose solution.
- Repeat with the other lens.
- Let both soak overnight.
Remember, multipurpose solution also cleans your contact case.
Never Reuse Cleaning Solutions
Although most contact wearers do not try to reuse the same solution for cleaning, they often, erroneously reuse the same solution for storing by:
- Not emptying the contact case and reusing the solution in the case
- Topping up the solution already in the case, without emptying it first
This is a bad idea. The old solution contains the debris from the last use and the debris will then stick to your soaking contacts. This in turn leads to eye irritation and infection. That is why it is important to use fresh contact solution for storing your lenses.
What to Do if You Don’t Have Contact Solution
The best solution is prevention. As a contact wearer, always have spare solution and contact cases. Keeping solution in your car, purse, briefcase, gym bag, and office desk makes sense because you never know when you might need it.
For those wearing daily disposable contacts, there is another option. Carry a few spare pairs with you. That way, if your contacts begin to bother you, you can put in a fresh pair. The point is to be prepared.
Although water is a substance vital to life, it certainly is not for the life of your contacts! All eye doctors will tell you the same thing. Don’t mix water and contact lenses. Following this simple contact lens tip will ensure you’re practicing good contact lens care. Your contacts will be clean and your eyes will be healthy.