Are you are using your contact lens solution as an eye drop to lubricate your eyes? If so, you're not alone; this is a common strategy to try and improve comfort.
But unfortunately it does far more harm than good. This post looks at why this is and what you can do about it.
Are contact lens solutions good or bad?
Contact lens solutions are vey good at what they do, which is to disinfect and store your lenses. Their function is to kill microbes on your lenses and they are therefore toxic to living cells – including your own! The vast majority are preserved with chemicals that are also toxic to eyes – sometimes causing prolonged inflammation.
While the temptation may be strong to add a little moisture by squeezing in a drop of storage solution directly into your eye while wearing your lens, avoid it if you want to continue to be able to wear your lenses long term.
If your eyes feel dry or uncomfortable, then you should look at treating the dryness rather than using your solution to refresh the lenses. There are several excellent innovative contact lens materials that significantly reduce feelings of dryness. There are also several unpreserved tear substitutes that can relief the symptoms of dryness and irritation.
A very important point to also consider is that over a period of 10 years, 70% of people stop using their lenses because of contact lens discomfort! Seek attention from a contact lens expert if you value wearing your lenses.
Why are they so popular?
Contact lenses are one of the most preferred means of addressing vision problems. Admittedly, they are more convenient than big and bulky eye glasses, especially when it comes to travel and sport. Even with
the advent of laser eye surgery to correct vision problems, contact lenses remain popular with people who do not have the funds to pay for surgery or who are too scared or worried of the risks and complications of such procedures.
While they prove to be cheaper, safer and more convenient alternatives, contact lenses also have their downside. People with vision problems are also concerned about the safety of these lenses which are often too small and too fragile to handle. Because of these attributes, these lenses should be handled with extra care at all times.
Another consideration for people who wish to use contact lenses is the fact that these are so sensitive and they cannot be exposed to other fluids apart from the following:
• Natural fluids in your eyes
• Special contact lens solutions
• Hydrating / lubricating eye drops
Best eye drops for use with contact lenses
Most of the time, people who wear lenses only keep contact lens solutions with them. But in some instances, your eyes tend to be very dry when you wear contact lenses in certain environments.
This can make wearing the lenses unbearable, so something needs to be done if you cannot take then lenses off and wear your glasses.
You would most likely feel helpless especially if you do not have access to the prescribed eye drops specially designed for your lenses. One option if you don't have lubricants available is to use the overnight storage solution.
Here are some easy steps on how you can substitute preservative-free lubricating eye drops instead of your contact lens disinfecting and storage solution:
• The first thing we need to understand is that it is quite possible that your contact lens storage solution could in fact be responsible for your eye irritation.
• Therefore using your solution should be a last resort.
• If you use lubricating drops regularly, always choose non-preserved ampules, as preservatives in any type of solution can be toxic to the eyes.
• If you do not have anything other than your contact lens storage solution, make sure you do not touch the tip of the bottle with your eye, as you can infect the solution and ultimately give yourself an eye infection.
• If you think you are sensitive to your lens storage solution (remember this is quite common), you should immediately see your optometrist for advice.
• Long term sensitivity to contact lens solutions is one of the major reasons that many patients ultimately drop out of contact lenses altogether.
Where we come in...
At The Eye Practice, solving contact lens related issues is our specialty. Our policy, which has been very successful over the years is
- Prescribe single-use daily contact lenses that are packaged in non-preserved solutions.
- If re-useable lenses must be prescribed then we recommend non-preserved, peroxide-based cleaning systems (such as AOSept) to avoid complications.
- We seem to have had some success lately with a new contact lens solution called BioTrue made by Bausch & Lomb. This solution has been designed from the ground up to try and mimic human tears. It is the only preserved solution that we currently recommend, due to the horrendous contact-lens dropout rates.
- Educate our patients extensively – not all contact lenses and contact lens solutions are the same!
Ultimately it is best to avoid using your storage solution as a lubricant as it is likely that it is the actual cause of your problem to begin with.
Experiencing problems with your contact lenses? Or, want to enjoy ongoing success? Call The Eye Practice on (02) 9290 1899 or BOOK AN APPOINTMENT by CLICKING HERE.
(This article was originally published on 4/7/2012 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance).