During normal wear, dirt, protein particles, and germs can get on contacts. Germs can cause serious eye infections that may lead to blindness. Proper cleaning of your contact lenses kills these germs. Cleaning also protects your eyes from irritation and removes substances that may shorten the life of the lens.
Contacts must be disinfected every time you take them out. If you have daily-wear or extended-wear soft contacts, clean and disinfect them every night. (Eye care providers recommend that all contacts be taken out before sleeping, even those called extended wear contacts.) Disposable contacts should be thrown away and not cleaned and reused.
You will need separate solutions for cleaning, disinfecting, and rinsing. You will also need a contact lens case.
To clean and disinfect your lenses properly, follow the instructions of your cleaning system carefully. Always handle your lenses gently (soft contacts can tear). Be sure to keep track of which is the right lens and which is the left. It may help if you always handle the right lens first.
Make sure that your solutions are clearly marked so that you do not confuse the different bottles. Some solutions can be irritating or harmful if they are put directly in the eye.
In general, you will be instructed to follow these steps:
Wash your hands with plain soap before you put your lenses in your eyes. Remove one lens from the case, rinse it thoroughly with the sterile saline rinsing solution, and then put it in. Repeat with the other lens. Rinse the case with tap water every day, and either dry it with a lint-free cloth or let it air dry. Make sure your case is completely dry before you use it again.
To help remove protein deposits, your eye care provider may recommend enzyme cleaning. Enzyme cleaning is usually done once per week. Using the enzyme cleaner on the same day each week may help you to remember when enzyme cleaning is needed.
Most enzyme cleaners come in tablet form. Follow the directions on the package of enzyme cleaner. Then clean, disinfect, and rinse your lenses before putting them in your eyes.
Many contact lens care products are sold today. Your eye care provider will advise certain products based on what is best for your contacts and safest for your eyes. Other products might work just as well. However, using different solutions may irritate your eyes or discolor your lenses. Always check with your eye care provider before you switch contact lens solutions. Always read the instructions that come with your products.