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Soft Contact Lenses: Two-Step Peroxide Disinfection

What is peroxide disinfection of soft contact lenses?

During normal wear, dirt, protein particles, and germs can get on soft contacts. Peroxide disinfection kills the germs, which can cause serious eye infections. The two-step method uses hydrogen peroxide and a neutralizing solution. The rest of the cleaning process removes substances that may shorten the life of the lenses or irritate your eyes.

When is it used?

To prevent infections, you must disinfect soft contacts every time you remove them. If you have daily-wear soft contacts, you will clean and disinfect your lenses every night. If you have extended-wear soft contacts, you should clean and disinfect them every time you take them out (at least once a week). Most eye care providers suggest that you remove all contact lenses before sleeping, even the extended-wear kind. Ask your eye care provider about this.

How is peroxide cleaning done?

To properly clean and disinfect your lenses, you will need:

  • a daily cleaning solution
  • a hydrogen peroxide solution
  • a solution for neutralizing and rinsing
  • the lens basket and vials designed for your hydrogen peroxide system
  • the catalyst disc that comes with the system

To clean your lenses, follow these steps:

  1. Wash your hands before you remove your lenses. Always handle your lenses gently (soft contacts can tear). Be sure to keep track of which is the right lens and which is the left. It helps if you always handle the right lens first.
  2. Cleaning: Remove the right lens and put it in the palm of your hand facing up (like a bowl). Pour a few drops of daily cleaner over the lens. Using one finger, rub the lens back and forth. The daily cleaner helps dissolve dirt and oils.
  3. Rinsing: Either cradle the lens in your fingertips or leave it in your palm, and rinse it thoroughly with the sterile saline rinsing solution.
  4. Put the right lens in the side of the basket marked with an R. If you are using this system for the first time, you will need to put a catalyst disc in the lens basket according to the instructions. (Later, after 90 uses or whenever the product instructions indicate, you will need to change the catalyst disc.)
  5. Repeat steps 2, 3, and 4 for the left lens. Then fill the vial to the line with peroxide solution and put the lens basket in the vial. Let your lenses soak in this solution for the recommended time (usually 10 to 15 minutes).
  6. Remove the lens basket from the vial and rinse the lenses with the sterile saline rinsing solution. Pour the hydrogen peroxide solution out of the vial. Then refill the vial to the line with the rinsing solution. Remember that the basket must have a catalyst disc attached. Soak the lenses in the neutralizing solution with the catalyst disc for the recommended time (usually 6 hours) or overnight.
  7. Before you put your lenses in your eyes, wash your hands. Remove the lenses, one at a time, from the rinsing solution. Use the sterile saline solution to rinse the lenses thoroughly, then put them in.
  8. Rinse the vial and basket thoroughly with tap water. Either dry them or let them air dry.

Are any other cleaning procedures necessary?

Your provider may also recommend enzyme cleaning to help remove protein deposits. Enzyme cleaning is usually done once every week or two. Use the enzyme cleaner on the same day each week to help you remember when to do it.

Use your enzyme cleaner as directed. Then clean, disinfect, and rinse your lenses before putting them in.

Most enzyme cleaners come in tablet form. Some tablets can be put in the hydrogen peroxide soak. The enzyme works and is no longer active by the end of the 6-hour or overnight soak. Be sure to use only enzyme tablets that are made for use with a hydrogen peroxide disinfection system.

What solutions should I use?

There are many different contact lens care products on the market. Your care provider will recommend certain products based on what is best for your contacts and safest for your eyes. Always check with your eye care provider before changing contact lens solutions. Other products might work, but using different solutions could irritate your eyes or discolor your lenses. Always read the instructions that come with your contact lens products.

Never use homemade solutions to clean or store your lenses.

Reviewed for medical accuracy by faculty at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Web site: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/wilmer/
Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-01-30
Last reviewed: 2010-09-07
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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