Contact Lens Solution(s)
January 29, 2004 8:48 AM   Subscribe

What's the difference between 1) expensive contact lens lubricating solution, 2) cheaper non-contact lens eye drops, and 3) cheap-ass saline solution? If I pour saline solution into my eyes with lenses in, will they melt like Nazi eyes beholding the Ark of the Covenant?
posted by mookieproof to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
I've been using the saline solution as my wetting drops since I started wearing contacts back in the 80s. To date, no ill effects.

I do get a little expensive bottle of lubricating solution to carry in my bag for plane trips and what not. At one time I did notice the ingredients of the B&L 'comfort drops' and 'saline solution' was nearly identical.

I do know that you should not use those non-contact lens eye drops like visine in your eyes.
posted by birdherder at 9:24 AM on January 29, 2004

I don't know the scientific answer to this question, but I will tell you what I do.
Every morning, when I first wake up, before I go in the shower, I put a couple drops of the saline solution (I use Opti-Free No rub solution). My eyes cannot stand putting the contacts in while they're "dry". When I get out of the shower, I put a drop or so into each contact before putting them on. It makes application so much easier!
My eyes are still spherical and not-melty, so I think I'm okay.
posted by j at 9:27 AM on January 29, 2004

I might be able to answer #1 and #3. Expensive stuff has disinfectant and de-protein elements that help contact lenses, especially long-term contacts, retain their original clarity and comfort for an extended period of time. Saline is simply a "water" for contact, that's great for storage and a quick rinse, but little else. If you use daily disposables, you don't need anything. If you use bi-weekly or any longer term lenses, I suggest expensive stuff, for the long-term health of your eyes and comfort.

I used to use Renu and Opti-Free, but my eyes are sensitive, and they caused a distinct stinging sensation after a couple of weeks of use. Complete, my current solution, is much smoother on the eyes and, as my optometrist said, almost puts a layer of wax on the lenses to prevent any painful experiences. Of course, if you use monthly replacements, semi-annual, or annual lenses, Opti-Free and Renu are the best, because their cleaning properties are the best on the market.

I stay away from eye-drops, even though I occasionally need them, because they're slightly addictive and cumbersome. I don't like having anything in my pockets.
posted by BlueTrain at 9:40 AM on January 29, 2004

This isn't exactly an answer to your question, but since you've emphasized "cheap" I thought I'd share my wonderful money saving info. If you use/like/prefer Alcon's OptiFree solution (the green bottle), the same formulation is used in Target's generic label solution. The best part is, you can usually grab a two-pack of the generic for less than one bottle of OptiFree.
posted by dicaxpuella at 9:44 AM on January 29, 2004

Many of the non-contact lens drops have vasoconstrictors in them: substances that narrow blood vessels in order to "get the red out"(TM). Not cool for your contacts. Others have antihistamines, which presumably could be absorbed by your contacts.
posted by stonerose at 9:49 AM on January 29, 2004

I use a traditional daily cleaner with my contacts, then put them in Opti-Free. (The Opti-Free can also be used for cleaning but it's pretty expensive to stream the solution over your lenses for several seconds each as directed.) In the morning I rinse them with "sensitive eyes" saline, again because it's much cheaper than the Opti-Free and also because the Opti-Free used to sting my eyes a little bit if I put the lenses directly in my eyes from the case. The new formulation of Opti-Free doesn't do that, but it's still cheaper.

Good to know that the Target solution is the same as Opti-Free. I'll buy that in the future. The daily cleaner and saline I use are also Target brands.
posted by kindall at 11:26 AM on January 29, 2004

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