Navigating the world of eye care can be daunting, especially when faced with unexpected challenges like figuring out how to store contacts without solution. Whether you’ve run out during a trip or are seeking alternatives for other reasons, understanding the best and safest methods is crucial. Dive into this comprehensive guide to explore the ins and outs of contact lens storage and ensure optimal eye health.
What is Contact Lens Solution?
Contact lens solution is a meticulously crafted liquid essential for the maintenance and care of contact lenses. Its primary role is to clean, rinse, disinfect, and store lenses, ensuring they remain comfortable and significantly reducing the risk of eye infections.
The main components of these solutions include preservatives, which combat microbial growth; buffering agents that maintain a stable pH for comfort; surfactants for loosening and removing debris; and wetting agents to enhance lens moisture.
There are different types of solutions, with the most common being multipurpose solutions that handle all lens care steps, hydrogen peroxide-based solutions known for deep cleaning but requiring neutralization, and saline solutions mainly for rinsing.
It’s crucial to note that not all solutions are suitable for every contact lens type, with specific formulas crafted for soft lenses or rigid gas-permeable lenses. Always store the solution in a cool, dry place and be wary of any solution that appears cloudy or discolored. Mixing old solution with new or different types is discouraged for optimal eye health.
Eye health is paramount, and the way you store and handle contact lenses directly impacts it. Here are some critical precautions to consider:
- Hygiene First: Always ensure your hands are clean and dry before handling contact lenses.
- Regular Replacement: Ensure that the storage liquid (whether it’s a solution or an alternative) is replaced daily.
- Avoid Contaminated Water: Never use tap water directly on lenses. It contains microorganisms that can adhere to the lens surface and cause infections.
- Storage Case Maintenance: Regularly clean the storage case and allow it to air dry to prevent bacterial growth.
- Listen to Your Eyes: If you experience discomfort, itching, or redness after wearing lenses, remove them immediately and consult a specialist.
Methods of Storing Contacts Without Solution
Contact lenses, when not in use, require a moist environment to maintain their structure and function. Without the specialized contact lens solution, users must tread cautiously, ensuring they prioritize the health of their eyes. Here are several methods to consider:
1. Saline Solution
Saline solution, predominantly a blend of salt and water, can act as a makeshift substitute for the traditional contact lens solution. While it can help maintain lens moisture, it lacks the disinfecting properties found in commercial solutions. Users can purchase sterile saline solutions from drugstores or make their own by boiling distilled water and salt. However, when using homemade saline, it’s essential to ensure accurate proportions and full dissolution of salt.
2. Distilled Water
While distilled water is purified of many contaminants, it still doesn’t provide any disinfecting capabilities. It can serve as a last-resort short-term storage medium, but always remember to thoroughly rinse your lenses with a proper disinfecting solution or saline before wearing them again.
3. Daily Disposable Lenses
For those who find the process of storing lenses cumbersome, daily disposable lenses present an alternative. These are designed for single use: you wear a fresh pair every morning and dispose of them at night, removing the need for storage.
4. Contact Lens Cases with Built-in Wetting Agents
Innovations in the eye-care industry have birthed lens cases that come pre-lined with wetting agents. These agents keep the lenses moist over extended periods, diminishing the need for a storage solution. Ensure that the case is regularly cleaned and the wetting agents are replenished as needed.
5. Emergency Short-term Measures
In extreme situations, individuals may consider using saliva or wrapping the lens in plastic wrap. These methods are not recommended due to the significant risk of introducing contaminants, leading to eye infections or lens damage.
In all cases, it’s essential to understand that these methods are alternatives and might not provide the comprehensive care and safety that commercial contact lens solutions offer. When opting for any of these methods, it’s always a good practice to consult with an optometrist or eye care professional to ensure safety.
Things to Avoid
When it comes to storing and caring for contact lenses, a few shortcuts or alternatives can pose significant risks to your eye health. Here’s a list of what you should avoid:
- Tap Water: Even though it’s readily available, tap water can harbor microorganisms, including the harmful Acanthamoeba, which can cause severe eye infections. These microorganisms can adhere to the surface of your lenses and transfer to your eyes.
- Saliva: While it might seem like a quick and accessible wetting agent, saliva is teeming with bacteria and should never be used to moisten or clean contact lenses. Using saliva can lead to infections and other complications.
- Reusing Old Solution: Always empty and refresh the storage solution in your contact lens case daily. Reusing or “topping off” old solution can reduce its disinfecting properties, potentially leading to contamination.
- Extended Dry Storage: Storing lenses dry for an extended period can change their shape and structural integrity, making them uncomfortable or even unusable when rehydrated.
- Homemade Solutions: While the idea of crafting a DIY contact solution might sound resourceful, getting the balance of ingredients wrong can lead to eye irritations or ineffective disinfection.
- Expired Solutions or Alternatives: Always check the expiry date on any purchased solutions or storage alternatives. Expired products might lose their efficacy and could introduce contaminants.
- Mixing Different Solutions: Combining various brands or types of solutions can alter their chemical balance and reduce their effectiveness. Always use a single solution unless otherwise directed by an eye care professional.
- Ignoring Storage Duration Recommendations: Some solutions or alternative methods have specific durations for which they can store lenses safely. Going beyond this time frame can jeopardize the safety and integrity of your lenses.
By being aware of these pitfalls and avoiding them, you can ensure the longevity of your contact lenses and, more importantly, safeguard your eye health.
Best Practices for Cleaning and Maintenance
Maintaining the cleanliness and integrity of contact lenses is paramount for optimal vision and eye health. Here are some best practices to ensure your lenses are always in top condition:
- Wash Your Hands: Before handling contact lenses, always wash your hands thoroughly with soap, ensuring they’re free from dirt, oils, and lotions. Rinse well and dry with a lint-free towel to avoid transferring any residues to your lenses.
- Regular Cleaning: Clean your contact lenses daily using the recommended solution. Gently rub the lens in the palm of your hand with a few drops of solution to remove surface deposits and bacteria.
- Rinse Well: After cleaning, rinse the lenses thoroughly with the appropriate solution to remove loosened debris.
- Fresh Solution Every Time: Always use fresh solution when storing lenses overnight. Reusing or “topping off” old solution can diminish its sterilizing efficacy.
- Case Care: Clean the contact lens case with solution, not water, and let it air dry daily. Replace the case every three months or sooner if it becomes cracked or damaged.
- Avoid Sleeping with Contacts: Unless prescribed extended-wear lenses, always remove contacts before sleeping to reduce the risk of eye infections.
- Scheduled Replacement: Follow the replacement schedule provided by your optometrist. Whether you wear daily, bi-weekly, or monthly lenses, sticking to the schedule prevents over-wearing, which can reduce lens performance and comfort.
- Regular Eye Check-ups: Schedule regular appointments with your optometrist to ensure your prescription is up-to-date and your eyes remain healthy. They can also provide guidance on any new lens care products or practices.
- Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions: Different lens materials and designs might have specific care instructions. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines or consult with your optometrist.
- Stay Informed: Advances in contact lens technology and care products occur regularly. Stay updated by discussing with your eye care professional or researching trusted sources.
By adhering to these best practices, not only do you prolong the life of your contact lenses, but you also ensure the safety and health of your eyes.
Though alternatives exist, always prioritize eye health. The way contacts are stored can be the difference between clear, comfortable vision and potential eye complications.