Contacts cleaning: a simple guide
To fully enjoy the freedom and comfort of your contact lenses, have a regular cleaning regime. It is essential for good eye health. Find out how to keep your contacts clean and disinfected and keep your eyes healthy!
Over the years, we've heard many contact lens wearers tell us that they take their contacts out at the end of the day and throw them right in the case because they are tired and want to sleep. Or they are in a rush to get to work in the morning, so they insert their contacts without the proper care required.
Dr. John Lahr, the Medical Director for EyeMed Vision Care, discusses the importance of contact cleaning. He also gives tips on the best way to clean contact lenses to reduce the risk of eye infections.
Why is it important to clean contacts correctly
Taking proper care of your contact lenses will help you get the most out of your contact lenses and is fundamental to avoiding eye infections. Many surfaces may harbor bacteria that can cause serious eye infections. Keratitis, or inflammation of the cornea due to bacterial infection, can cause pain, inflammation, and scarring of the cornea. Keratitis is linked to contact lens wear because it can result from a lack of care or failure to sterilize supplies as directed.
“There are two primary reasons I hear for why people don't properly clean and disinfect their contacts," Lahr said. “First is that they don't know all of the necessary steps involved in the cleaning process. Second, they seem to constantly be in a rush so they don't spend the extra time, for instance, to wash their hands before putting in or taking out their contacts."
ContactsDirect cares about your eye health. In collaboration with Dr. Lahr, we put together the most up-to-date guidelines on how to clean and take care of contact lenses. A consortium of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Contact Lens Association for Ophthalmologists, the Cornea Society, and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery helped develop the guidelines.
How to properly clean contacts
Our tips include how most soft contact lenses are cared for after removal using a multipurpose solution.
- Before handling contact lenses, wash your hands with soap and water. After, rinse and dry them with a lint-free towel.
- To clean, rub your contact lenses in the palm of one hand using the fingers of the other hand; then rinse each lens with a solution before soaking them. Some experts consider the "rub and rinse" method superior, even with a "no-rub" solution. Ask your doctor about the best contact solution for your specific needs.
- Clean your contacts lens case. Lens cases can be a source of contamination and infection. Keeping it clean and replacing it regularly, at least every three months, can prevent infections. Do not use cracked or damaged lens cases. To clean, rinse with every use with either sterile solution or hot tap water, and let it air dry.
- Minimize the amount of contact your lenses have with water, including removing lenses before swimming or getting in a hot tub. Contact lenses should not be rinsed with or stored in water (tap or sterile water).
- Put on makeup after your contacts are in your eyes, so you don't get any on your lenses. Take out contact lenses before you remove makeup for the same reason. If you use hair spray, use it before you put it in your contacts. It's also a good idea to keep your fingernails short and smooth to avoid damaging your lenses or scratching the eye.
Do's and Don'ts of contact lens cleaning
- ✘ Don't put your lenses in your mouth to wet them. Saliva is not a sterile solution.
- ✘ Don't use saline solution and rewetting drops to clean contact lenses—neither are effective or approved disinfectants.
- ✔ Do wear and replace contact lenses according to the schedule prescribed by your eye care professional.
- ✔ Do follow the specific contact lens cleaning and storage guidelines from your eye care professional and the solution manufacturer.
Dr. Lahr says, "If you get into the routine of properly cleaning your contacts, your eyes will feel more refreshed."
Make cleaning your contacts a priority. It's a good habit for healthy and happy eyes.