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  • Writer's pictureMaria Cholakova

How to Clean Contact Lenses?

Dive into the nitty-gritty of keeping your contacts clean with our detailed guide. We advise on how to clean contact lenses, why it's crucial, what tools you need, and what to avoid. Read our straightforward tips to keep those lenses sharp and your eyes happy.

Importance of Cleaning Contact Lenses

Learning how to clean your contact lenses properly is essential. A skill to save you from future eye problems and help you maintain the quality of your vision aid.

Here's why cleaning matters:

  • Hygiene

  • Visual Clarity

  • Comfort

  • Eye Health

Cleaning prevents the accumulation of bacteria, debris, and protein deposits on the lens surface. That reduces the risk of eye irritation, infections, and inflammation from dirty lenses. It also ensures the contacts remain clear and free from other tiny particles.

For optimal contact lens care, consult your eye doctor on how to clean your contacts. By following a cleaning routine, you can enjoy both clear vision and excellent eye health.

how to clean contact lenses

Risks of Wearing Dirty Contact Lenses

The risks of actively using dirty contact lenses aren't only about discomfort. Bad hygiene habits may trigger eye conditions no one wants to deal with.

For example, putting on dirty or improperly cleaned contacts may lead to:

  • Bacterial infections

  • Corneal ulcers

  • Microbial keratitis

  • Reduced oxygen permeability

  • Allergic reactions

Bacteria can thrive on the lens surface and easily stick to your contacts. Thus leading to infections like pink eye.

If you have an infection, you will notice redness, itching, and eye discharge. Giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC) is the most serious offender to potentially be concerned about. GPC inflames the inner surface of your eyelids due to long-term lens wear without adequate cleaning.

Prolonged use of dirty lenses also creates a perfect breeding ground for painful corneal ulcers. The nasty sores on the cornea present in severe pain, redness, blurry vision, and high light sensitivity. This is a serious condition that needs extensive treatment by an eye doctor.

Microbial keratitis is also a type of infection of the cornea. A clear cause is bacteria thriving on unclean lenses. Patients with keratitis complain about severe pain, blurriness, light sensitivity, and excessive tearing. Fungi or amoebae can also cause contact lens-associated corneal infections.

The bad news don't stop there. Dirt deposits on the lens may block the oxygen flow to the cornea.

Low oxygen permeability results in extreme discomfort, dry eyes, and long-term complications. These may be swelling of the cornea (corneal edema), growth of new blood vessels (corneal neovascularization), or increased sensitivity to lens materials (lens intolerance).

On top of everything, some debris may trigger intensive allergic reactions with redness, itching, eyelids swelling, and excessive tearing.

Cleaning Tools for Contact Lenses

Before sharing how to clean contact lenses, we want to talk about the tools you need.

The first step to maintaining the hygiene of your contacts is to gather the following cleaning tools:

  1. Lens case for storing lenses when not in use

  2. Daily cleaner solution (for daily disposable contacts)

  3. Contact lens cleaning solution (for long-term use contacts)

  4. Clean, dry towel or tissue for drying your hands when handling contact lenses

Daily contact lenses are disposable after their first use, so no need for any long-term maintenance.

But if you get the daily lenses dirty before you put them on, rinse the contacts with the liquid inside their single-use container. Should be enough to clean up loose debris and tiny particles stuck to the lenses.

Additional tools to make contact lens handling easier are lens tweezers and a suction cup for lenses. You can hold the lenses with the tweezers and use the suction cup to take them off your eyes.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Clean Contact Lenses

Here is the best way to clean contact lenses after you take them off:

  1. Wash hands

  2. Dry hands

  3. Prep the cleaning tools

  4. Remove lens

  5. Clean with cleaning solution

  6. Rinse the lens

  7. Store the lens away

  8. Repeat (3-6) for the second lens

Begin by thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water! Dry them using a clean microfiber or lint-free towel.

Quick tip: Handling lenses with wet hands is nearly impossible. Ignoring the drying hands step may result in the lens sticking to your finger or you dropping, misplacing, or even losing the contact lenses.

As a third step, prep the cleaning tools - lens case, cleaning solution, and lens storage solution. They should be quick and easy to access.

Next, it's time to take off your vision aid. Remove one lens at a time! Start with the same lens each day (left or right) to avoid mix-ups.

contact lens cleaning process step

Put the lens in the palm of your hand and pour some of the contact lens cleaning solution on top. Rub the lens gently to remove accumulated particles and deposits.

Then rinse it with the solution to wash away any loosened debris.

Once clean, place the contact lens in the appropriate compartment of your case. Fill it with a fresh lens storage solution.

contact lens cleaning process

Repeat all the steps for the second lens. Then cap the case and put it away.

It's a simple routine that pays off big time.

What NOT to Use to Clean Your Contact Lenses

Cleaning contact lenses without the appropriate solution is NOT SAFE.

Using improper substances may damage the lenses or cause eye irritation.

If you find yourself without a contact lens solution, consider these alternatives: saline solution or distilled water. These are options ONLY a temporary measure in emergencies. They are not 100% safe. If you decide to use distilled water, boil it and let it cool before using to reduce contamination risk.

This is what NOT to use to clean your lenses:

  • Tap water

  • Homemade solutions

  • Saline solution intended for nasal irrigation

  • Hydrogen peroxide (other articles may tell you this is safe, but it's NOT)

  • Artificial tears, contact lens rewetting drops, or other types of eye drops

  • Household cleaning products

  • Regular disinfectants

  • Bleach

Do not count on alternative solutions. As soon as possible, get the proper contact lens solution and follow the regular contact lens cleaning routine.

cleaning contact lens last step

Learning how to clean contact lenses is a part of maintaining good eye health and vision clarity. Routine eye doctor visits will further ensure your prescription stays accurate, and your eyes healthy. For more tips on how to preserve your eyes, check our blog section.

Checked by Atanas Bogoev, MD.

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