Wearing contact lenses comes with certain risks, the greatest of which is that of infection. That’s why it’s crucially important to make sure you know how to disinfect contact lenses properly, especially at the time of writing this article; the middle of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
First and Foremost
Wash Your Hands
The most common way that contact lenses become infected is through dirty hands. The most important thing to do to prevent infected contact lenses is to properly and thoroughly wash your hands immediately prior to handling contact lenses. That means immediately before inserting and immediately before removing contact lenses.
Don’t Touch Your Eyes
Realistically, contact lenses don’t always act like they’re suppose to. Sometimes they twist or move out of position which can cause vision to fluctuate. This can be frustrating and can tempt contact lens wearers use their fingers to reposition their contact lenses. Needless to say, this is not a very hygienic habit.
If you absolutely have to readjust your contact lenses, try to find a washroom to wash your hands first. It’s always practical to have some contact lens solution on hand in situations like these where it may be necessary to remove and re-insert contact lenses throughout the day.
Use The Right Contact Lens Solution
To disinfect soft contact lenses, nothing compares to a hydrogen peroxide contact lens solution.
Most contact lens wearers do not use hydrogen peroxide contact lens solutions so they may not know what they are. So for the sake of thoroughness, let’s review the different kinds of contact lens cleaning solutions.
A multi-purpose contact lens solution is the typical, every-day contact lens cleaning solution. These solutions are used for cleaning and storing contact lenses overnight. Although it is safe for multi-purpose contact lens solutions to touch the eyes, it is not intended for direct application to the eyes.
Typically, these kinds of solutions require rubbing of the contact lenses with the solution to mechanically remove the debris and possible pathogens from the contact lenses. The ingredients also include compounds that can kill bacteria or stop them from multiplying.
Very common and popular multi-purpose solutions are:
These solution are pretty effective at killing bacteria (Biotrue is actually much better than Optifree Replenish), they do not kill viruses like the coronavirus.
Here is a useful list of some (not all) commercially available products effective at killing coronavirus (COVID-19). You’ll notice that there are no multi-purpose contact lens cleaning solutions on that list.
Hydrogen Peroxide Contact Lens Solutions
On the other hand, the list does have 4 products that contain something called hydrogen peroxide. They are:
- Clorox Healthcare® Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner Disinfectant Wipes – Active ingredient: 1.4% Hydrogen Peroxide
- Clorox Commercial Solutions® Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner Disinfectant – Active ingredient: 0.5-2% Hydrogen Peroxide, Benzyl Alcohol 1-5%
- Clorox Healthcare® Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner Disinfectant – Active ingredient – Active ingredient: 1.4% Hydrogen Peroxide
- Clorox Commercial Solutions® Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner Disinfectant Wipes – Active ingredient: 0.5-2% Hydrogen Peroxide, Benzyl Alcohol 1-5%
*Please note that the 4 products listed above or not for use on contact lenses!
Additionally, consumerreports.org lists hydrogen peroxide 3% (among other things) as a product that can destroy the coronavirus (COVID-19).
So are there any contact lens solutions that contain hydrogen peroxide 3%? As a matter of fact there are.
Although neither of these products are specifically mentioned in this list, both of them contain hydrogen peroxide 3% which is higher than all of the hydrogen peroxide based products on it.
Hydrogen peroxide contact lens solution are not the same as multi-purpose contact lens solutions! The solution can not under any circumstances touch the eyes directly or indirectly until it has been neutralized.
Failing to do so may cause chemical corneal burns.
If you use these products, make sure to read the instructions on the box carefully.
How Hydrogen Peroxide Contact Lens Solutions Work
Let’s use Clear Care as an example.
Please do no rely on this brief overview alone. Make sure you read the instructions on the box and in the package insert.
The bottle inside has a red cap and a red warning label warning on it. The warnings are not just for you, but for anybody in your household who may unintentionally use this as a normal multi-purpose contact lens solution. Remember, if a hydrogen peroxide contact lens solution touches the eyes before it is neutralized, it will burn the eyes.
Hydrogen peroxide contact lens solutions work with a very different contact lens case. Only use the case that comes in the box and change it every time you start a new bottle. Do not use a multi-purpose solution case with a hydrogen peroxide contact lens solution.
Inside the case there is a mechanism that opens up on both sides. Pull down one of the sides, place the contact lens inside the basket and then close it up. Do the same for your other contact lens. The two sides are color coded so you can keep track of the right and left contact lenses throughout the process.
Next, fill the vial up to the indicator line with the hydrogen peroxide solution.
And finally, screw the inner portion back into the vial. You will notice bubbles forming inside. This is normal. It is due to a chemical reaction taking place which neutralizes the hydrogen peroxide. The process takes 6 hours to complete. Once the process starts you cannot wear your contact lenses again until it is complete.
When the neutralization process is complete, there is no hydrogen peroxide left inside the vial. It is then safe for the liquid to come into contact with your eyes. Simple remove the contact lenses from the holders and insert them as usual.
Properly disinfecting contact lenses is very imprtant for the long term health of the eyes as well as long term success with contact lenses. Knowing how to disinfect contact lenses has become even more important now in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using a hydrogen peroxide 3% base contact lens solution is the best to disinfect contact lenses from the coronavirus, as well as all the other micro-intruders out there.
If you have any questions about hydrogen peroxide contact lens cleaners, let me know in the comments section below!