Most doctors fail to discuss contact lens solution with patients, but all contact lens solutions are not the same. Certain brands of lens solution are more compatible with select contact lens brands. Without education, it’s easy to just purchase the cheapest brand without considering the possibility of an eye infection or difficulty wearing your lenses.
Here’s what you need to know about selecting your contact lens solution…
Two types of contact lens solutions
There are two major categories of contact lens solutions: multipurpose cleaners and hydrogen peroxide cleaners:
- A multipurpose solution means the same solution can be used both for cleaning, disinfecting, and storing contact lenses.
- A hydrogen peroxide solution uses neutralization to clean and disinfect the contact lens.
The 4 most widely used brands of multipurpose solutions include OPTI-FREE® PUREMOIST®, RENU® ADVANCED FORMULA, BIOTRUE® and ACUVUE® RevitaLens.
Solution 1: OPTI-FREE® PUREMOIST®
OPTI-FREE PUREMOIS may be the most recognized brand of multipurpose solution and was the most prescribed for many years. The lens solution has dual disinfectants to get rid of microorganisms and a Hydraglyde® moist matrix for all-day comfort and protection from debris. Each lens must be rubbed for 20 seconds and then rinsed for 10 seconds with the solution to clean properly. Purchase this contact lens solution here.
Solution 2: RENU® ADVANCED FORMULA
RENU® ADVANCED FORMULA cleans and disinfects against the five most common organisms. The contact lens must be rubbed for 20 seconds and then rinsed for 5 seconds to disinfect and remove the protein from the lenses. Prior versions of the solution were not as effective at cleaning certain contact lens brands. Prior to use, consult the staining grid or ask your eye doctor. Purchase this contact lens solution here.
Solution 3: BIOTRUE®
BIOTRUE® disinfects and cleans overnight while adding up to 20 hours of hydration. The solution has a pH balance designed to match tears for improved comfort. Per the instructions, you must rub each side of the lens surface for 20 seconds and then rinse each side with solution for 5 more seconds. Purchase this contact lens solution here.
Solution 4: ACUVUE® RevitaLens
ACUVUE® RevitaLens kills greater than 95 percent of all bacteria while providing enhanced eye comfort. Lenses must be rubbed and rinsed for proper disinfection. This solution is equivalent to peroxide solutions in disinfection against a broad spectrum of organisms. Purchase this contact lens solution here.
Hydrogen peroxide solution
CLEAR CARE ® is the most used hydrogen peroxide cleaner. It is available in both regular and plus. CLEAR CARE ® PLUS has the addition of the wetting technology, Hydraglyde®, for improved comfort but can negatively interact with certain specialty lens types. For most patients, I recommend the regular version.
CLEAR CARE ® is a triple-action cleaning and disinfecting solution. The solution deep cleans, loosens dirt, and the bubble action enhances protein removal from the contact lenses. The platinum disk turns within the specialized case, which comes with the solution, to neutralize hydrogen peroxide into non-preservative saline overnight. Bubbles are released, which signals the contact lenses are being disinfected.
Though many patients purchase saline for use with their contact lenses, it isn’t a cleaning agent. A saline solution is a mixture of salt and water. The normal saline solution contains 0.9 percent sodium chloride (salt), which mimics the salt concentration in blood and tears. Saline solution is sometimes be called isotonic saline. It shouldn’t be used alone but may be used to rinse the solution from the lenses before insertion if the cleaning solution causes the eye to burn.
Proper use of contact lens solutions
It is extremely important to use each solution as the directions on the bottle indicate. With a hydrogen peroxide solution, neutralization occurs over six hours, and if the instructions aren’t followed, the solution will burn your eye upon contact lens insertion. If the solution doesn’t neutralize for 6 hours, the correct case isn’t used or if the basket is knocked over, your eyes will burn, sting, and be extremely red. While unlikely to cause permanent damage, your eyes will be uncomfortable for at least a day.
Patients rarely follow the instructions with a multipurpose solution. Many require that you rub the lens in the palm of your hand while squirting a stream of solution on the lens prior to leaving your lens in solution for the night. If the lens is just placed in the solution, it has not been adequately cleaned. Inadequate cleaning leads to bacterial infections, and red, painful eyes, and can even lead to large corneal scars or blindness.
The all-around best contact lens solutions
The two best solutions for all brands of extended-wear contacts (biweekly or monthly) are CLEAR CARE® and ACUVUE® RevitaLens.
For many years, doctors consulted the staining grid to decide which solution to recommend with the prescribed brand of contact lens. The grid showed the amount of corneal staining that occurred with the combination of a brand of lens and a particular contact lens solution.
The amount of staining is important because an increase in staining can lead to an increase in eye infections or complications. The grid hasn’t been updated recently with a shift towards daily lenses, but prior research indicates CLEAR CARE® and ACUVUE® RevitaLens are effective at killing Acanthamoeba, which is an amoeba found worldwide in water and soil.
These are the only two solutions that kill Acanthamoeba which is harmful to the eye.
There are several advantages that CLEAR CARE® has over RevitaLens. When cleaning a lens, there is less risk of ripping it because you are inserting it inside of the basket versus cleaning with your fingertips. The use of the basket and the cleaning disc is more convenient than digitally cleaning the lens. It’s the lazy way of cleaning contact lenses.
The major advantage of Acuvue® RevitaLens is the lens does not have to neutralize for six hours overnight, so you may be able to wear your lenses sooner. This may be more important for college students or if traveling overseas.
In summary, there are four major leading brands of multipurpose contact lens solutions on the market and one hydrogen peroxide agent. You should read the directions on your contact lens solution bottle, just like you would like a household cleaning agent, to make sure you’re properly disinfecting your contact lenses.
If you have comfort issues with your contacts or develop red eyes, discuss your lens solution and lens brand combination with your eye doctor. Switching to a different contact lens solution can improve eye comfort and eye health.