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    Contact Lens Cleaning Solution Basics

    Reviewed By William Barry Lee, MD
    Edited By David Turbert
    Apr. 18, 2023

    If you wear any contact lenses that you take out and use more than once, you must disinfect them with a solution to keep them clean and safe. There are two main types of contact lens cleaning solutions: hydrogen peroxide-based and multipurpose. Both kinds remove debris and build-up when used properly, but they work in different ways.

    Sometimes people are allergic to some contact lens solutions. Some people may become sensitive to a solution over time. Red or inflamed eyes, pain and excess tearing can be signs of a contact-lens-related-eye-infection. Contact your ophthalmologist If you experience these symptoms.

    Multipurpose Solutions

    Multipurpose contact lens solutions can clean and disinfect contacts quickly. Their convenience and low cost makes them a popular choice.

    How multipurpose solutions work

    Always wash your hands before handling your contacts. Put your contacts in the palm of your hand and moisten them with some of the multipurpose solution.

    Multipurpose solutions are sometimes called “no rub” systems. But W. Barry Lee, MD, still recommends rubbing the lenses for 10 seconds with your fingers. “This will ensure that any remaining debris is removed,” Dr. Lee says. Put a saline drop in each lens to rinse it before putting it back in your eye.

    What to look out for with multipurpose solutions

    There are different types of multi-purpose solutions for gas-permeable lenses and soft lenses. Make sure you choose the one that’s right for your lenses.

    Hydrogen Peroxide Solutions

    Hydrogen peroxide-based lens solutions require more time and attention to clean your contacts safely. These cleaning systems are preservative-free. They can be a good choice for people who are allergic or sensitive to chemicals. Hydrogen peroxide cleaners tend to be more expensive than multipurpose solutions.

    Hydrogen-peroxide is very good at disinfecting contact lenses, but will cause stinging and burning if it touches the eye. You must neutralize this solution after the contacts are disinfected. Neutralizing the solution means that it’s changed from hydrogen peroxide to plain saline.

    How hydrogen peroxide solutions work

    To clean your contacts, place them in a small case filled with the solution and soak them for six to eight hours. Disinfection can be a one-step or two-step process, depending on the hydrogen peroxide product. One-step products have a neutralizer built into the case. For two-step products, you must add a neutralizing tablet to the solution after cleaning.

    What to look out for with hydrogen peroxide solutions

    One risk of a two-step solution is forgetting to add the neutralizer. If you forget the neutralizer, you can harm your eye with the hydrogen peroxide.

    It’s important not to reuse or top off hydrogen peroxide solution after it has been neutralized. Once the solution is neutralized, it has lost its disinfecting power.

    Be sure to dry your case thoroughly between uses. A damp case can grow bacteria and other organisms from the tap water. Replace your case monthly, or at least, quarterly, to cut the risk of infection.