Are all multipurpose contact lens solutions equal?

Multipurpose contact lens solutions are dual-purpose liquids that clean and disinfect, rinse and refresh your contacts. Multipurpose contact lens solutions also are called “no-rub” solutions, because they are designed to adequately clean and disinfect lenses with a simple rinse-and-store method, eliminating the need to mechanically rub the lenses to remove lens deposits.  Recent research, however, suggests that rubbing the lenses after moistening them with a stream of multipurpose contact lens solution provides greater cleaning effectiveness. For this reason, many eye care professionals recommend adding a short, 10-second period of mechanical rubbing as part of the cleaning regimen with multipurpose solutions.

All multipurpose contact lens solutions are not created equal, especially when used by patients who wear soft or silicone hydrogel lenses. Generic contact lens solutions sold at grocery, discount retailers and pharmacy chain stores may not be compatible with some types of contact lenses. Generic solutions are safe and FDA approved, but formulations may change from time to time depending on the supplier and manufacturer. The product may not always be the same exact solution every time you buy it. If the solution doesn’t effectively remove lipid and protein deposits, which can build up over time, the lenses can cause discomfort when worn. Also, some people can be more sensitive (or become more sensitive over time) to certain preservatives used in multipurpose solutions. Sometimes a solution may work for you for weeks or even months, but then start to create sensitivity.

If your contact lenses are comfortable to wear throughout the day, stick with the solution you are currently using.  It isn’t worth saving a little money if another brand or generic doesn’t work for you.

If your lenses feel gummy or you experience stinging, watering, excessive blinking or squinting, try switching to a brand name solution. You may be sensitive/allergic to preservatives used in your current solution or the solution may not be removing deposits that build up on your lenses over time. Also, use only one brand of solution until you have determined if it is effective for you. Using a combination of solutions makes it difficult to determine which solution may be causing an adverse result.

If you have sensitive eyes or eczema, or if you’re prone to allergic reactions, you may want to talk with your doctor about using a preservative-free hydrogen peroxide contact solution rather than a multipurpose solution. Look for “PF” on the label to indicate the solution is preservative free.

Always wash your hands before handling your contact lenses to reduce the risk of infections and never use tap, bottled, or even distilled water on your lenses.

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