Longtime readers of this blog will know that we love to get into the nitty gritty of everything eyecare (though we’d rather you didn’t get any grit in your eyes). We’ve already written a primer on contact lenses, as well as tips on how to clean your glasses; put the two together, and we’ve got to talk about cleaning your soft contact lenses! Cleaning those is actually pretty straightforward; after that, we’ll give you some tips you might not know you needed on contact lens solutions.

The first thing to do when you want to clean your contacts is wash your hands thoroughly. We don’t want to get whatever you touched last on your eye. Make sure to dry thoroughly, then put your contact lens cleaning solution in your palm, and remove the first contact and rub it gently in the solution (even for no-rub solutions). You’ll then rinse the lens, for as long as the solution tells you to, until all the debris is washed off; put the lens in a clean lens holder filled with fresh solution. Once that’s done, do the same with the other lens!

That’s easy enough, but what solution should you use for your contacts? That question, as it turns out, is tricker to answer than you might expect. There are products for rinsing, for disinfecting, for cleaning, and multipurpose products that do all of the above. There are protein removing products; protein from your eyes will form on your lenses, and the more often you rewear lenses, the more protein will build up. The answer to the question “Which product should I use?” is best answered by your optometrist.

Why is that? Well, while all contact lens liquids are safe, some react poorly with different types of contact lenses, which can hamper the lens and your eye. That’s why you should consult before purchasing your first solution, and consult before changing the solution that you use. Of particular concern are the “generic brand” solutions offered by large chain retailers. They tend to have more compatibility issues than other brands – worse yet, what you’re getting can be a bit of a mixed bag. That’s because the chain stores don’t manufacture their own solution; rather, they buy solutions from suppliers. Supply chains change, so they might switch suppliers to get cheaper solution, which means compatibility could change.

There are other issues to be aware of with contact lens solution, including the risks posed by expired solutions. For greater awareness on this issue, you can consult the Canadian Association of Optometrist guide to contact lens solutions, which goes over some more of the risks presented by incompatible liquids, including nasty things like corneal ulcers. The short of it is this: always consult with your optometrist before changing your cleaning regimen, be very cautious when you clean, always sterilize everything while you’re cleaning, don’t mix solutions, and don’t use expired products. Follow those steps, and your contacts should leave you seeing wonderfully!