"Okay, let's get straight to the answer," said Dr. Lahr of ContactsDirect. "The firm answer is no, you cannot use water as a contact solution. Using tap water, bottled or even distilled water is never the substitute for contact lens solution." Putting contact lenses in water will contaminate the lenses and give rise to eye irritation or even infection! Using the best contact solution preserves the quality and safety of your lenses.
Can you put contacts in water?
Tap water is not salty like tears are, so contact lenses absorb the water and swell. They hold onto it, causing problems. It is not sterile and contains microorganisms. If your lens wells, it changes how the actual contact lens fits on your eye, making it tight on the eye. “You can also create microscopic breaks in your cornea that microorganisms can get into, which can create infections," says Dr. Lahr.
Another common question asked by contact wearers is, "Can you put contact lenses in water overnight?" When you don’t have contact solution, a common technique is to use water or your saliva as an "emergency" solution. Doing this is a very bad idea. You are exposing your contact lenses to substances riddled with bacteria. According to Dr. Lahr, putting contacts into your mouth is like “putting them in a petri dish."
What to use if you don't have contact solution?
Don’t panic! If you find yourself in a situation where your lenses are bothering you and you don't have contact solution on hand—throw away your contacts. Another option is to use lubricating drops made for use with contact lenses to relieve the discomfort. It is wise to always carry some emergency contact solution and a contact lens case with you. But if you find yourself without any contact solution and you need to get creative, you can try using these substitutes:
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Saline Nasal Spray
- Eye Refreshing Drops
- Home-Made Saline Solution
Use these substitutes to get you through one night until you can get a proper contact solution. These should not be used as a long-term replacement.
So, never put your contact lenses in water. Not even for one night. When you shower or plan on swimming or using a hot tub, it is better to be safe than sorry and remove them before you get in. Water carries bacteria and other organisms that can contaminate the lenses and cause serious infections.