Contact Lens Solutions: Why your doctor never recommends generics11:04 PM
I ask the same questions to every contact lens wearer in my practice: Are your lenses comfortable? Do you sleep in them? How often do you throw them away? What solution do you use to clean the lenses?
Nobody bats an eye by the first few questions. We all know that overwearing your contact lenses is a main source of discomfort, not to mention a dangerous health risk to the corneal tissue beneath your contact lens (see this post for more details). But when was the last time you stopped to think about how your contact lens solution made your contact lenses feel? Believe me, it can make all the difference in the world.
Not everyone can comfortably use the same multipurpose contact lens solutions
Contact lens solutions are chemical cleaners designed to kill bacteria and remove protein and lipid debris from the surface of the lens. No surprise, not everyone reacts to these chemicals in the same way. I have patients that love generic solutions and never have a problem. I have patients that use the same solution every day for years, and then all of a sudden develop an allergy to the preservatives. It happens. The important thing is finding the solution that works with the chemistry of your natural eye and with that of your contact lens, and this is why talking with your doctor about any comfort issues can help find the solution that works bet for you.
Why I steer clear of generics
I prescribe generic medications all of the time, but I never recommend generic contact lens solutions as the best option for comfort. The reason? Generics are older formula concentrations that are high in preservative count and low in moisturizers. They will kill bacteria, so generics are not a health risk to your contact lenses. Preservatives are great at killing microorganisms, but they also are very toxic to your cornea. The higher the preservative count, the more drying, toxic chemical load your lenses are being coated in. Obviously not the most ideal for comfort.
If you are having problems with lens comfort
Classic signs of a contact lens solution sensitivity are burning or stinging when the lens touches your eye, blurry vision after rinsing the lenses, and general dryness, itching, or discomfort when wearing contact lenses. Your doctor will be able to evaluate if the solution, your contact lenses, or both are causing the problems with your comfort.
There are a number of great new products that I have been having a lot of success with, so if you are having dryness with your contact lenses I recommend trying:
Opti-Free PureMoist (more moisturizers, less preservatives)
-Brand new solution, but so far it has appeared to aid the transition for patients from a heavily moisturized 2 week lens to a more oxygen permeable monthly lens. If you are switching from a 2 week lens like Acuvue to a monthly product, I definitely recommend using a highly moisturizing, low preservative count contact lens solution.
Biotrue (specifically formulated to match the natural pH of the eye for less stinging). Great with the Synergeyes Duette products!
And my favorite contact lens solution for people with sensitive eyes:
Clearcare (just don't put the solution straight into your eyes!)
Clearcare works great for people with seasonal allergies, heavy depositing, and anyone with preservative sensitivity because it is preservative free!