Taking good care of contact lenses is not just an extremely good idea but a vital part of contact lens wear that is often overlooked. Considering that lenses are in contact with one of the most sensitive and valuable areas of the body, the human eye, it is necessary to give the proper thought and care to how you store your lenses. While cleaning contact lenses is an important part of the hygiene process, proper consideration and care needs to be given to storing contact lenses so that they remain clean and ready for use.
Contact lens cases
Cases for contact lenses have two wells, which are each intended to contain a single contact lens when not in use. These cases are often made out of plastic and range from the purely practical (two round wells connected by a strip of plastic) to the highly whimsical (cases made to look like cartoon animals or other decorative objects). Some of the plastics used for cases are special and, for example, can be boiled for cleaning.
Purchasing unusual contact lens cases can be not only an expression of personal style but can also be practical. If a contact lens case has a distinctive appearance, the user is unlikely to mix it up with the cases of other people, which can easily be done in a household where several people use contact lenses.
Using contact lens cases
Contact lenses are usually placed in their case, along with some multipurpose solution or other cleaning fluid intended specifically for the particular type of lens (soft, rigid, etc.). A drop of protein remover can be added to this daily, or a tablet of enzymatic cleaner once a week to accomplish the same task. Contact lenses should be washed and rinsed before being put in the eye after being removed from the case where they were stored.
Cleaning contact lens cases
Just as contact lens cases are used to clean the lenses themselves, so the cases themselves need to be cleaned so that they do not become a breeding ground for bacteria or fungi. It is especially important to clean the case in such a way so that it does not harbor Acanthamoeba, a nasty microscopic amoeba that can cause blindness if untreated. Over 90% of Acanthamoeba infections occur in contact lens users, highlighting the risk related to improperly cleaned cases and lenses.
Some lens cases are designed to be boiled, which is naturally a good way to exterminate all microorganisms that may be in the case. Tap water should never be used for case cleaning, since it is a potential source of Acanthamoeba infestation. If you have no access to bottled or thoroughly filtered water, boil your water before using it to wash lens cases if necessary.
Contact lens disinfectant or multipurpose contact lens solutions are often used for washing out contact lens cases. The case should be dried and placed upside down on a clean tissue to ensure full drainage and eliminate the risk of bacterial biofilms growing in the wet interior. Hot water can be used in place of these solutions, but again, it should be filtered or boiled first in order to rid it of amoebic cysts.
Regardless of how thoroughly contact lens cases are cleaned, they should be disposed of every three months at the longest, and a new case substituted. Some people prefer to change their lens cases monthly. More frequent changes cost more but ensure greater hygiene and safety.