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Contact lenses are an alternative to eyeglasses for correcting vision. Contact lens solutions are a way for individuals to care for contact lenses to maintain comfort, keep eyes healthy, and reduce the risk of infections.

This article looks at what contact lens solutions do, what to consider when choosing one, some of the best contact lens solutions available, and more.

A contact lens solution can clean, disinfect, rinse, moisturizes, and store contact lenses.

There are various types of contact lens solutions available. Some products just remove dirt and some germs from the lenses; others contain disinfectants to kill germs on the contact lenses to help prevent eye infections.

A person with rigid or hard contact lenses may wish to speak to their eye doctor before purchasing any contact lens solutions. Some products are only suitable for those with soft contact lenses.

An individual who uses soft contact lenses and wants a product that cleans and disinfects can choose from a range of multipurpose or hydrogen peroxide solutions.

Multipurpose solution

Multipurpose solutions are all-in-one products that clean, rinse, disinfect, and store contact lenses. Some types also moisturize the lenses.

Research shows that multipurpose solutions are effective against germs that can lead to eye infections and other conditions. A 2016 study found that multipurpose products containing the disinfectants chlorhexidine, polyaminopropyl biguanide (PAPB), and the antibacterial preservative ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDPA) were effective against germs that cause keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea.

Try to follow these recommendations when using a multipurpose solution:

  • rub and rinse contact lenses and store them in fresh solution after taking them out
  • never mix old or used solution with fresh solution, as this reduces disinfection effectiveness
  • always use new solution each day
  • ensure there is no old solution left in the case after use and dry it with a clean tissue
  • store the clean case uncapped and upside down on a clean tissue to prevent germs from building up

Hydrogen peroxide solution

Hydrogen peroxide solutions clean, disinfect, and store contact lenses. Eye doctors may prescribe hydrogen peroxide solutions if an individual reacts to multipurpose solutions.

This product comes with a case that converts the hydrogen peroxide into saline within a few hours. People should avoid getting hydrogen peroxide in or near the eye, as this can result in stinging, burning, irritation, or eye pain, or injury.

Follow these steps when using a hydrogen peroxide solution:

  • read and follow all instructions on the label before using the solution
  • always use fresh solution, and never mix new, old, or used products
  • wait at least 4–6 hours or follow the advice on the packaging before putting contact lenses in
  • never rinse contact lenses with hydrogen peroxide and put them directly in the eye, as this can cause injury

There are various factors to consider before purchasing a contact lens solution, including:

  • Contact lens type: Not all products are suitable for soft and rigid contact lenses. Rigid contact lenses may require different solutions.
  • Time: A person will have to leave contact lenses in hydrogen peroxide solution for longer than multipurpose solutions.
  • Comfort: Several solutions help keep eyes hydrated. Some solutions contain lubricants, such as hyaluronan and lubricin that moisturize the lenses and reduce friction. A 2017 study shows that using hyaluronan and lubricin alone or in combination effectively reduces contact lens friction more than a control saline solution.
  • Travel: Some manufactures offer travel-friendly solution sizes, which are 3 ounces (oz) or less in volume.
  • Price: Individuals may opt to purchase double- or multi-pack solutions, which may be less expensive than buying a single one.

Below are six multipurpose and hydrogen peroxide contact solutions available to purchase online.

Please note, the writer has not tested these products. All information is research-based.

Bausch + Lomb Biotrue

This multipurpose rub and rinse solution contains hyaluronan, a lubricant naturally found in the eye. The company states that it can moisturize contact lenses for up to 20 hours.

Bausch + Lomb Biotrue dissolves protein buildup and kills 99.9% of germs. This multipurpose solution is suitable for silicone hydrogel lenses and other soft contact lenses.

Each purchase comes with a free lens case. The bottle and packaging are 100% recyclable.

Bausch + Lomb Biotrue comes in 10 fluid ounce (fl oz) bottles and is available in single or multipacks.

CLEAR CARE Cleaning and Disinfection Solution

This preservative-free hydrogen peroxide solution uses a triple-action cleaning system to disinfect and clean both soft and rigid gas permeable contact lenses. The bubbling action helps remove foreign material and protein deposits from the lens.

The solution comes with a CLEAR CARE case that people use to leave their lenses overnight or for at least 6 hours. The case contains a platinum disc that activates bubbles and neutralizes the hydrogen peroxide into a gentle saline solution.

CLEAR CARE Cleaning and Disinfection Solution is suitable for both soft and rigid contact lenses.

The product comes in 3 and 12 fl oz bottles and double 12 fl oz packs.

Bausch + Lomb Renu Advanced Formula

This multipurpose solution has a triple disinfectant system that kills 99.9% of germs.

Bausch + Lomb Renu Advanced Formula cleans, hydrates, and conditions contact lenses. The company states that this product can prevent protein deposits from forming if a person uses it daily.

Each purchase comes with a free lens case. The bottle and packaging are 100% recyclable. This solution is only suitable for silicone hydrogel and soft contact lenses.

Bausch + Lomb Renu Advanced Formula is available in single or multipack 12 fl oz bottles.

Alcon Optifree Replenish

This multipurpose solution provides extra comfort by conditioning the lenses to retain moisture. The company uses its TearGlyde reconditioning system to create a barrier in the lens that helps retain a thin layer of the person’s natural tears for additional comfort and moisture.

It uses a dual disinfecting system (Polyquad and Aldox) to reduce microorganisms in the lenses, which may cause eye infections. The solution also removes debris and particles that can cause the contact lenses to appear cloudy.

Alcon Optifree Replenish is only suitable for silicone hydrogel and soft contact lenses. It is available in 10 fl oz bottles.

Alcon Optifree Puremoist

This multipurpose solution also uses a dual disinfecting system to clean lenses.

Alcon Optifree Puremoist reduces protein debris and deposit by creating a barrier on the lenses and adds an extra layer of moisture using HydraGlyde moisture matrix.

This solution is suitable for silicone hydrogel and soft contact lenses.

Alcon Optifree Puremoist is available in 2, 4, 10, and 16 fl oz bottles in single packs and 10 fl oz in double packs.

CooperVision Refine One Step

This preservative-free 3% hydrogen peroxide provides a deep clean and disinfection to short-wear soft contact lenses. Short wear contact lenses means that the wearer changes them every 30 days or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

CooperVision Refine One Step contains a lubricating additive for additional lens comfort.

This product comes with a barrel case that contains a platinum disc. This disk activates the hydrogen peroxide.

CooperVision Refine One Step is available in one 12 fl oz bottle.

There are several types of contact lens products that clean but do not disinfect. People should not use contact lens solutions that clean as an alternative to those that disinfect.

Other contact lens solutions include:

  • Saline solution: These solutions clean but do not disinfect contact lenses. Some hydrogen-peroxide solutions may recommend using a saline solution during the disinfecting process.
  • Daily cleaners: These solutions clean lenses by loosening protein deposits and debris. People may use these products alongside multipurpose or hydrogen peroxide solutions.
  • Enzymatic protein cleaners: These solutions remove protein buildup on the contact lenses. Individuals can use these products daily or weekly, and they are available in liquid or tablet form. Individuals should speak to an eye doctor before using enzymatic protein cleaners.

As of 2016, there are about 45 million contact lens wearers in the United States.

However, a 2020 survey of 109 soft contact lens wearers found that 77.7% of respondents did not clean and disinfect their contact lenses as recommended. Additionally, the survey found that:

  • 35.5% of respondents did not follow handwashing recommendations
  • 37% of respondents did not take contact lenses out while swimming
  • 31.6% of respondents slept with their contact lenses in their eyes
  • 50.5% of respondents did not take contact lenses out while showering

It is vital to follow all safety recommendations when wearing contact lenses.

Contact lens wearers should:

  • always wash their hands with soap and water and dry them before handling contact lenses
  • rub and rinse the contact lenses when cleaning.
  • use fresh contact lens solutions and never top up old solutions
  • only use contact lens solutions that an individual’s eye care provider recommends
  • replace contact lens cases every 3 months
  • remove contact lenses when showering or swimming
  • take out contact lenses before sleeping

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends people should avoid washing their hands with cream soaps, as soap residue may transfer to the contact lenses. Additionally, the AOA states that people should not use homemade saline solution, tap water, or saliva to clean their lenses or share their contact lenses with others.

If an individual does not follow safety recommendations, they have an increased risk of developing an eye infection.

Learn more about the risks and recommendations of contact lenses here.

If a person suspects they have an eye infection, they should remove their contact lenses and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Symptoms of an eye infection include:

Contact lens solutions offer a way for individuals to cleanse, disinfect, and store their contact lenses. Some solutions are only suitable for soft contact lenses, whereas others are suitable for soft and rigid contact lenses.

People should follow all safety recommendations when wearing contact lenses. Improper contact lens use can lead to eye infections. If a person suspects they have an eye infection, they should remove their contact lenses and seek medical advice.