Contact Lens Care Systems and Solutions
Currently, there are numerous care products aimed at being used in maintaining eye health, especially for contact lens wearers. However, the lens care system prescribed is dependent on numerous factors, such as types of lens, material, and a patient’s factors. In most cases, contacts become contaminated by numerous substances ranging from proteins, tear debris, and environmental pollutants, among others. Additionally, contact lenses become contaminated during the handling and storage process.
Given the risks posed by contaminated lenses, a system had to be developed to help deal with the issue. The primary goal of the lens care system is to combat microbial and help keep other harmful substances subdued; thus, maintain eye health, comfort, and vision. However, this has to be achieved with many practitioners understanding that not many people adhere to the guidelines provided by numerous agencies.
Care system components
The contact lens care system ranges from a single bottle of multi-purpose solutions to many bottles of various other solutions. Usually, care systems have various steps that one must fulfill before getting the desired results; however, others do not make the ‘rub’ phase mandatory. The components of the system include cleaning, rinsing, disinfection, and sterilization.
- Cleaning: this is the removal of a substance from the surface of the contact lens and is achievable by rubbing the lenses using one’s fingers. For people looking to achieve ‘mechanical’ clean, it is possible to do this by utilizing sterile saline. However, one must utilize a special solution to get all the deposits removed. Apart from removing deposits, the process is useful during the disinfection process.
- Rinsing: It is an integral phase of cleaning and disinfecting the contact lenses. Together with cleaning, the two steps are estimated to clean over 99% of the bacteria. It not only removes substances that have been left after cleaning but also helps in getting rid of the remaining cleaning process.
- Disinfection: simply put, the step is seen as important in the destruction of microorganisms. However, it does not destroy the necessary bacterial spores. It is beneficial to all people wearing both soft and hard lenses. Additionally, it is believed to be the first step towards avoiding microbial keratitis. Disinfectant solutions should be able to keep your lenses free of microorganisms and help keep the contacts hydrated.
- Sterilization: this step is critical as it helps clear all forms of substances and spores on the lenses surface. Typically, the process of sterilization takes place in high temperatures and last for a duration of 30 minutes.
Wetting and surfactants
The use of wetting solutions was a result of hard contact lens wearers looking for ways to ways to make their lenses more comfortable to the eye. The development of wetting solutions was based on many principles. For example, they were supposed to make the lenses more comfortable, promote even distribution of tears, and act as a buffer between the lens and the finger during the insertion period.
Usually, its effects are immediate, although it reduces after 15 minutes. Conversely, surfactants are usually used to remove debris and improve comfort.
There are numerous lens care systems and solutions that one can utilize.
1. Multi-purpose solution
This solution is an all-in-one lens care system that one can rely on to carry out all the necessary activities revolving around cleaning, rinsing, and disinfecting lenses. It is usually appropriate for storing soft contact lenses. This solution is the most popular care system among the contact lens wearers. In most cases, surfactants are added to the formulation of the solution to help remove debris and provide wettability; thus, offering comfort to the user. The most common types of surfactants are tetronic poloxamers. Soft solutions help people to remove protein, especially during the soaking phase. Most manufacturers are relying on chemicals such as polyhexanide biguanide to make the solution more effective. The use of such chemicals has been commended, given that the large molecular size makes them less harmful to the eyes.
Below are some of the steps that one must follow to use the multi-purpose solution effectively:
- One should ensure that they rub and rinse their contacts and store them in fresh solutions every time you remove them.
- One should avoid mixing an old and a new solution. This is because doing so reduces the required effectiveness, which may expose you to harmful substances.
- The contact lens cases should be cleaned using the new solution every single day.
- One should ensure they empty excess solutions every day.
- Dry the case; just place it upside down on a clean tissue.
Hydrogen peroxide-based care system
Just like the aforementioned care system, the hydrogen peroxide-based care system helps with the cleaning, disinfecting, and storing contact lenses. In most cases, this solution is prescribed to people who may have allergies to some of the substances used in the composition of the multi-purpose system. The system is usually used with special lenses. The solution is handy in cleaning bacteria, although it can cause some discomfort to the eyes. It is common given the ease with which it can be broken into both water and oxygen. To neutralize the reaction, contact lenses are first placed in the solution, and a catalyst added later to ensure peroxide is broken down. To effectively use the solution, one should adhere to numerous guidelines. For example:
- Carefully follow the instruction provided.
- Never mix both old and new solutions.
- Wait for the stipulated time before inserting the lenses.
Unlike the aforementioned care systems, these are specifically designed for cleaning and not disinfecting the lenses. It is effective in loosening the dirt debris from the surface of the contact lens. It works by placing a few drops on the palm and rubbing for the stipulated time. Given its properties, one must utilize other care products to rinse and store their lenses.
Rigid gas permeable (RGP) care system
RPG care systems are usually used on hard contact lenses and are different from ones used for the soft care system. Typically, hard contact lenses require one to invest in numerous solutions to clean, disinfect, and store them effectively. One should avoid using solutions meant for hard contact lenses on soft ones. Talking to your optometrist will help you decide on the best solution to purchase.