Learn how to clean contact lenses to keep eyes healthy and lenses comfortable.
When I first started wearing gas permeable lenses over 25 years ago, you had to use different solutions to actually clean and then disinfect your lenses. Even soft lenses required a weekly "soak" in special disinfecting fluid, followed by a 3-4 hour period in normal cleaning/storing solution to neutralize the effect of the disinfection treatment.
Nowadays, however, most people use multi-purpose solutions which can clean, rinse, lubricate and disinfect contact lenses overnight, removing any germs or protein deposits which build up on lenses naturally throughout the day.
Many people, however, are very lazy when it comes to contact lens care as they just take their lenses out at night and pop them in a lens case, which often has the previous day's lens solution in it!
Follow these steps for clean, germ-free, comfortable lenses:
Always wash your hands before handling contact lenses and dry them on a lint-free cloth or towel so that tiny particles of fabric don't transfer from your hands to the lens.
Make sure your lens case is clean by rinsing it thoroughly with contact lens solution and adding FRESH solution ready for storage later - it's best to do this after you insert your lenses in the morning, as that way, when you're tired at night, you won't forget.
When you take your lenses out, hold them up to the light to check if there are any particularly bad protein deposits; if so, place the lens in the palm of your hand and add a few drops of multi-purpose solution, then rub the lens gently with your forefinger for about 10 seconds.
Rinse the lens with fresh solution and place it into the lens case, adding more solution if necessary to completely cover the lens.
Leave the lenses to soak overnight or for at least 4 hours to allow the contact lens solution to remove any bacteria or fatty deposits.
When asking how to clean contact lenses properly, many people also wonder what is the best contact lens solution. The answer lies partly in the type of lens you use, soft or gas permeable, and also the cleaning regime recommended by your eye doctor.
Multi-purpose one-solution-does-it-all products are available for both types of contact lenses, but some gas permeable lens users need a two-step cleaning regime to remove particularly stubborn deposits that can't be removed by overnight soaking.
Now you know how to clean contact lenses, read my related pages for more information on contact lens solutions, both multi-purpose and two-step cleaning regimes using hydrogen peroxide-based cleaning products, for people who are sensitive to the preservatives used in multi-purpose solutions.