Contact Lens Solutions With Hydrogen Peroxide: To Avoid Injury, Follow All Instructions
If you wear contact lenses, the way you clean them can affect your vision and health.
Following instructions and taking note of product warnings is especially important if you use a solution that contains hydrogen peroxide. Here is advice from the FDA.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates contact lenses and certain contact lens care products as medical devices. Contact lenses require a prescription, and all products, including those relating to contact lenses, marketed to consumers must be determined to be safe and effective. (Even if you have perfect vision, and your contact lenses are just “decorative” or “colored,” a contact lens prescription is required by federal law.)
Before you choose a contact lens solution, talk to your eye-care provider about the best cleaning and disinfecting method for you. For instance, contact lens multipurpose solutions clean, disinfect, and condition contact lenses. Other lens cleaning products contain hydrogen peroxide, which requires special care for safe use.
Contact lens solutions are sold over the counter, which means that you don’t need a prescription. “But over-the-counter products are not all the same,” says Bernard P. Lepri, O.D., M.S., M.Ed., an FDA optometrist in the agency’s Contact Lens and Retinal Devices Branch.
Incorrect care of contacts can increase your risk of eye infections and injury—and can cause blindness in rare cases, Lepri adds.
Like multipurpose solutions, when hydrogen peroxide is used in certain contact lens solutions, it helps to clean and disinfect contact lenses by breaking up and removing trapped debris, protein, and fatty deposits.
Hydrogen peroxide solutions are preservative-free, which makes them a good option for those who are allergic or sensitive to preservatives in multipurpose solutions. But they are not risk-free.
The Required Disinfecting Process
Before you use solution with hydrogen peroxide, read all warning labels and instructions. Also note that the tip of the bottle is red. The red coloring is a reminder that these products require special handling.
“You should never put hydrogen peroxide directly into your eyes or on your contact lenses,” Lepri says. That’s because this kind of solution can cause stinging, burning, and damage—specifically to your cornea (the clear surface that covers your eye).
If you use a solution that has hydrogen peroxide you absolutely must follow the disinfecting process with a “neutralizer.” A neutralizer is always sold as part of your hydrogen peroxide cleaning solution kit. It turns the peroxide into water and oxygen, making it safe to put lenses into your eyes.
Neutralization can be either a one-step or two-step process. The one-step process neutralizes your lenses during the disinfecting stage, while the two-step process neutralizes your lenses after the disinfecting stage.