Can You Use Water For Contact Lens Solution?
You’ve just been prescribed contact lenses and while you are thrilled that your vision is about to improve, the new tweak to your lifestyle comes with new questions and concerns. From how to insert your new seeing aids to how to keep them clean and maintained, the application and care of your contacts can seem a bit daunting if you are a first-timer.
One question that many ophthalmologists are often asked is “can you use water for contact lens solution”?
The answer to this is a firm NO. While this response is often met with huge inconvenience, the fact of the matter is that washing or storing your lenses with anything other than doctor-recommended contact solution can not only damage the contacts but it can potentially be dangerous to your eyes too.
Why is water bad for contact lenses?
First of all, plain water does not have the same pH level as tears or saline. Water is generally more acidic and will cause your eyes to feel dry if you place water-exposed lenses onto your corneas. This will not only feel uncomfortable but the different pH level could also ruin and soil your contacts indefinitely, especially if they are the soft lens type.
Tap water also contains a residual amount of chlorine. This chlorine can be absorbed by your lens and then will gradually leach out onto your eye. This will leave your eyes feeling sore and irritated - it could also cause irrevocable damage.
Lastly, contact solution has been specially formulated by healthcare professionals to clean and disinfect your lenses. Water, whether it be from a tap or bottle, does not share the same disinfectant properties as these specialised solutions. In fact, tap water could have more of an adverse effect, with the potential to do more harm than good.
Water, even purified bottled water, contains bacteria and harmful pathogens. When you rinse or store your monthly contacts using water, you stand a chance of exposing your lenses to these threatening microorganisms. This is why swimming and washing your face while your contact lenses are in is not recommended either.
Bacteria and pathogens can cause your eyes to become irritated and inflamed, but in a worst-case scenario, they can also cause a sight-threatening parasitic eye infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis. Wikipedia defines Acanthamoeba keratitis as a disease in which amoebae invade the cornea of the eye – this invasion can cause permanent blindness.
Signs and symptoms of eye infection can include:
- Eye pain
- Eye irritation
- Blurry vision
If you experience any of the listed symptoms, then we recommend you consult with your eye specialist for a professional opinion and treatment plan.
What are the solutions to ensure that your contact lenses remain clean?
To reduce the possibility of an eye infection while still keeping your vision intact, we do have a couple of suggestions.
- While it might take some time to get into the habit of carrying your contact solution around in your bag or pocket, this is definitely good practice for contact wearers. This way you can keep your lenses clean whilst on the go and you never have to worry about “what if” they get dirty or “what if” you need to remove and store them.
- Another solution to what might be a very inconvenient predicament is to always have several pairs of disposable contacts on hand, especially when you are on the go. This way you can remove a pair when you need to and simply replace them with another fresh disposable set.
As with all health problems, prevention is the best cure and when it comes to wearing contacts, you’ll need to put a little forethought into your daily routine. For instance, if there is a possibility that you might find yourself in a situation where you won't have access to contact lens cleaner, then pack a container with your prescribed solution in or grab a few boxes of disposables from the store first thing in the morning.