Whether your contact lens solution bottle is empty or you’re looking for an alternative to expensive solutions, the simple answer is you should never use water in lieu of contact lens solution. Plain tap water may seem like a safe alternative to contact lens solution, but it can actually be a dangerous choice. Tap water contains microorganisms, some of which can cause serious eye problems. One microorganism, in particular, is known to cause blindness, and the dangerous amoeba has been found in pools, lakes, rivers, and even at the bottom of dirty contact lens cases.
What about Filtered Water?
Plain tap water isn’t an acceptable choice for cleaning your contacts and neither is bottled, purified, or filtered water. Not only are microorganisms present even in filtered or bottled water, but contact lens solution contains special cleaning agents that are necessary for eye health. If you use water in lieu of contact lens solution, dangerous parasites can adhere to your lenses or get caught underneath, which can lead to sight-threatening eye infections. While many eye infections can easily be treated, it’s best to take preventative measures, including always rinsing, cleaning, and storing your contact lenses in fresh contact lens solution.
Not only does contact lens solution clean and sanitize your lenses, but it helps your lenses keep their shape. Those who use water instead of contact lens solution may find that their lenses stick to their eyes when they apply them, are uncomfortable, and cause blurred vision. Since soft contact lenses are traditionally made with water, using water to store lenses can actually cause them to dry out and change shape, preventing clear vision, irritating the eyes, and potentially leading to infections.
Multipurpose vs. Hydrogen Peroxide Lens Solutions
The main advantage of multipurpose solutions is that the same solution can be used to clean, rinse, disinfect, and store contacts. These solutions make up the majority of the contact lens solution market, and are frequently recommended by eye care professionals. This type of solution requires lenses to be rubbed and rinsed before they’re placed in a contact lens case for storage. Simply squirt fresh lens solution into the palm of your hand, drop one lens into the solution, use the pad of your index finger to rub thoroughly, and insert into a lens case to soak overnight. This process significantly impacts the cleanliness of your lenses, so don’t skip this step.
Hydrogen peroxide solutions are ideal for patients with allergies or solution sensitivities, as they tend to be hypoallergenic. While hydrogen peroxide solution can be used to rub, rinse, and store contact lenses, it requires a critical step, which multipurpose contact solution doesn’t: neutralization. If you don’t neutralize the hydrogen peroxide from your lenses, they will sting or burn your eyes. Typically accomplished by placing the lenses into a special case that contains a neutralizing disc, neutralization doesn’t add much time to the disinfecting process.
Most contact lens wearers resort to using water out of desperation. In order to avoid having to use water as a last-ditch effort to keep your lenses clean and comfortable, consider carrying several pairs of daily disposable contacts with you wherever you go. If you don’t have daily disposable contacts, carry a spare lens case, a miniature-sized bottle of contact lens solution, and a spare pair of eyeglasses. In either situation, you’ll never have to worry about being without contact lens solution.