The best contact solution
Eye health is a top priority, and if you have contact lenses, you can appreciate the importance of keeping them clean and debris-free. That's why choosing a contact solution is a major decision and requires considerable thought. After all, contact solution plays an important role in your overall wear experience, not to mention keeps eye infections and irritations at bay.
As is the case with lenses, contact solution is a highly personal choice. Whether you need one that is specially designed for your lenses or you require a deep-cleaning solution, you may need to try more than one before finding a formula that works for you.
To help you find the right contact solution, we've assembled this buying guide. We're including a few recommendations at the end, as well as our top choice, ReNu's Lens Solution, Advanced Triple Disinfectant Formula, which boasts a triple-disinfectant system that kills 99.9% of germs.
Considerations when choosing contact solutions
Types of contact solutions
Before you purchase contact solution, it's important to know that the formula falls within one of two categories, disinfection solutions and rinsing solutions. Cleaning contact lenses is a two-step process that requires these two products, however multipurpose formulas condense it into a single step.
Disinfecting solutions are responsible for removing bacteria, germs, dirt, dust, and any debris that settles on lenses. They're also ideal for dislodging protein buildup, which causes lenses to appear cloudy. These solutions typically contain boric acid, hydrogen peroxide, or sodium chlorine as active ingredients.
Rinsing and storing solution
Rinsing and storing solutions do as their name implies: rinse off the disinfecting solution, and immerse lenses in a case. These solutions don't offer any kind of deep cleaning at the microorganism level, but they're ideal if you'd like to rinse lenses to hydrate them, or remove larger particles between daily cleaning and storage.
For a hassle-free cleaning process, use a multipurpose solution, in which a single formula both disinfects and rinses lenses. These solutions tend to be milder than others, so they're popular among those with sensitive eyes.
It's important to read the directions on any contact solution prior to use, as each one is used in a slightly different manner. Some formulas require you to gently rub lenses between fingers for up to 30 seconds before rinsing. Others don't require any rubbing at all, but you'll need to let lenses soak in the solution four to eight hours for effective disinfecting.
The average size of a bottle of contact solution ranges from 10 to 12 ounces. Travel-friendly bottles are typically three ounces or less and are often marked if they're TSA-compliant for carry-on luggage. Unfortunately, smaller bottles tend to be much more expensive per ounce than full-size bottles.
Since contact solution is an ongoing expense with contact lenses, many wearers choose to get the most bang for their buck by purchasing value packs. These are packaged with two to four bottles per pack, and in some cases, you'll save an average of 50% to 70% by buying in bulk.
Entry-level rinsing formulas, as well as some travel bottles, cost $8 and below. Disinfecting and multipurpose solutions cost closer to $12 per bottle. If you require a specialty formula for your lenses, or have sensitive eyes, be prepared to spend $18 or more per bottle.
Q. Will my contact lens solution come with a special case for my lenses?
A. It's common for contact solution to be packaged with a simple bonus case. Unless you're investing in a specialty formula, the case will be generic. You can purchase better-quality lens cases separately, such as those that open easily or are leak-free.
Q. I lost the lid of my contact solution bottle, so can I purchase a new one?
A. No, you'll need to purchase a new bottle altogether. While it seems like a waste, an open container of contact solution invites bacteria and germs inside, which defeats the purpose of the solution.
Contact solutions we recommend
Best of the best: ReNu's Lens Solution, Advanced Triple Disinfectant Formula
Our take: Moisturizing formula with a reputation for keeping lenses crystal clear.
What we like: No-soak formula makes for quick and easy use. Lubricating enough for those with dry, sensitive eyes.
What we dislike: Mixed results with certain lenses, such as some Air Optics.
Best bang for your buck: Equate's Saline Solution for Sensitive Eyes
Our take: Budget-friendly four-pack featuring an irritation-free formula.
What we like: Sterile, isotonic, buffer solution that keeps lenses moist during storage.
What we dislike: Only handles rinsing and storing, not disinfecting.
Our take: Reputable solution from an established brand well-liked by eye doctors.
What we like: Rids lenses of microorganisms and debris. Keeps lenses clear and lubricated.
What we dislike: Contains a preservative, Aldox, which may cause reactions for some people.
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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