The care of contact lenses varies by type of contact, wearing time and the prescribed lens replacement schedule. Low water soft lenses are cared for differently than higher water lenses. And today, soft lenses can be replaced, daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or on longer schedules, all requiring slight variations in a patients lens maintenance routine.
There are two main types of cold disinfection recommended by eye doctors:
- Chemical or multipurpose solutions
- Hydrogen peroxide systems
- Monitoring soft contact lens care
All soft lens wearers should be disinfecting lenses on removal, as prescribed by their eye doctor. Peroxide systems require one, two or three different solutions for proper and complete disinfection.
Chemical or multipurpose disinfecting solutions vary, in that some are a combination disinfecting and rinsing solutions, safe to instill directly in the eye, and others are purely for disinfection and must be rinsed from the lens prior to insertion. Rinsing solutions are primarily sterile saline solutions or salt water and are just that, for rinsing only, not overnight lens storage.
Surfactant and Enzyme Cleaners
The cleaning of soft contact lenses can be accomplished with a surfactant cleaner with special enzymes to breakdown the dirty build-up on the lens surface. Some enzymes are liquid, while others are supplied in tablet form and are dissolved in the disinfecting solution once a week. You also may choose to use a rewetting solution as you wear your lenses. These solutions act as a lubricant to increase comfort levels during lens wear.
Cleaning and Replacement Schedules
If soft lenses are replaced daily, a sterile rinsing solution and rewetting drops would be the only necessities. When lenses are replaced less than two-weeks, an enzyme-cleaning product is rarely needed; however, daily cleaning and proper disinfection are paramount.
The most convenient method of soft lens care for two-week to one-month and longer replacement schedules is to use a combination disinfecting/rinsing solution that also has some cleaning properties. If you do not clean your soft contact lenses properly every day dirt and deposits can build up which can irritate and even harm your eyes.
Your eye doctor will provide the best instructions for lens maintenance, proper replacement schedules and the preferred method for lens insertion and removal.