Can I Store My Contact Lenses in Plain Tap Water?

Contact lenses should neither be stored in tap water nor should they be rinsed with tap water. Tap water often contains microorganisms that can latch onto the lenses, encouraging eye infections.

Person with fainted fingernails with a contact lens on the index finger
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Studies have shown that an organism called acanthamoeba is sometimes found in tap water. Acanthamoeba has been known to cause a devastating eye infection that can destroy the cornea and sometimes the entire eye. Always use a contact lens solution for storing your contacts. Place your lenses in a clean lens case and fill with solution for soaking and disinfecting. Rinse the storage case every day with sterile rinsing solution, and always allow the storage case to air dry.

Contact Lens Solutions

A contact lens solution is a liquid used to properly clean contact lenses. There are two types of contact lens care systems: multipurpose contact lens solutions and hydrogen peroxide-based care systems. Both systems are used for properly cleaning and storing contact lenses.

Multipurpose Solutions

Many contact lens wearers use multipurpose solutions for rinsing, disinfecting, cleaning, and storing their soft lenses. Some people are afraid that multipurpose solutions are not effective at disinfecting certain types of bacteria, including acanthamoeba, from the lens. 

Hydrogen Peroxide Systems

Some people believe that hydrogen peroxide is the best way to disinfect contact lenses There are two types of hydrogen peroxide systems: "two-step" and "one-step" systems. When using a "two-step" product, the hydrogen peroxide must be rinsed away with saline before wearing the lenses. A "one-step" system allows hydrogen peroxide to react completely, becoming pure water. These systems do not require the lenses to be rinsed prior to inserting them.

Caring for Your Contact Lenses

  1. First, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Washing will ensure that you don't transfer dirt and germs into your eye. Dry your hands with a lint-free towel, as lint may stick to your contacts and get into your eyes.
  2. Clean one lens with a contact lens solution to remove any buildup, makeup, and other debris. Rub the lens gently in the palm of your hand with a few drops of solution.
  3. Rinse the lens thoroughly to remove the loosened debris, following the lens solution package instructions. 
  4. Place the lens into a clean contact lens case or lens holder. Fill the container with fresh contact lens solution. The solution will disinfect the lenses, making them safe to wear in your eyes. 
  5. Repeat each step with the other contact lens.

What You Should Know

If you wear contacts, be careful when it comes to hygiene. Keeping your contacts clean will help protect your eyes from infection. Carefully follow your eye doctor's instructions for disinfecting and caring for your lenses. Having an annual eye exam will help ensure that your eyes are free of infection.

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