Unisol 4 Discontinued; Your Best Replacement Options

11:03 AM

In fall 2015 Alcon very quietly discontinued their preservative free saline solution for contact lens rinsing and filling, the well-regarded Unisol 4.  Most local pharmacies and box stores are now out of the product, and patients that have used the product loyally for years are scrambling for a replacement.  If you don't think the panic is real, just check out the price gauging on ebay -- $50 for a 3 pack that would have run you under $10 just a few months ago.  I've spoken with a rep from Alcon, and there was no official statement released as to why the product was discontinued, and there is no plan for reinstating the product in future.  If you are in need of preservative free saline, here are a few doctor recommended solutions that can take it's place.

To Rinse Your Lenses
Preservative free salines make a great rinse for both soft and hard (RGP) contact lenses.  If traditional multipurpose solutions burn or sting, you can rinse off your contact lenses with a preservative free saline before inserting them in the morning.  Just remember, these salines are not lens cleaners so you always have to use a cleaning solution with your lenses for disinfection/overnight storage.  Your best options for a preservative free rinse are:

Arm & Hammer Simply Saline Sterile Saline Solution:  This is an aerosol spray can that can be used to rinse off your lenses.  The spray can design prevents contamination.  If you fill your contact lenses with saline before putting them in your eyes, do NOT use this product because you will be left with tons of air bubbles! Update: this is also now discontinued! 

Purilens Plus: This cleaning system uses a simple preservative free saline solution in combination with a special cleaning chamber that uses UV light to kill germs and bacteria.  The saline solution component is very similar to Unisol 4 in chemical component and could be safely used to rinse or fill your lenses.  You can buy Purilens Plus Ultra PF sterile saline separately from the rest of the cleaning system. 

CLEAR CARE Rinse and Go: Alcon launched this "replacement" for Unisol in spring 2016, made specifically for rinsing contact lenses.  It is a preserved saline so it is fine for rinsing, but not suitable for filling contact lenses.

To Fill Your Lenses
If you wear Synergeyes or scleral RGP contact lenses you have likely been instructed to fill your contact lens with preservative free saline before inserting it into your eye.  Never fill your lenses with cleaning products -- that means no multipurpose solutions and no conditioning solutions like Boston. The preservatives in these cleaners are made to kill bacteria, but they are non-discriminating in their toxicity and will kill your corneal cells too!  Your best options for preservative free fill solutions are:

Addipak Saline Solution for Inhalation: These vials of saline are preservative free and buffer free so they are ideal for extended contact with the cornea.  

Modudose Saline Solution for Inhalation: Also preservative free and buffer free; I've been using this brand for years and it is super affordable and easy to order in bulk on Amazon.  

In a bind you can also use preservative free artificial tears like Refresh Optive Preservative Free but these over the counter lubricants do contain pH buffers which can be irritating to sensitive corneas with prolonged exposure.  

The Purilens Plus Ultra PF saline mentioned above is also preservative free, so it could be used to fill contact lenses as well as rinse them.  I strongly prefer the preservative and buffer free vials mentioned above, but if for some reason those aren't working well for you, the Purilens Plus is the most similar thing to Unisol on the market today. 

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  1. Arm & Hammer discontinued Simply Saline.

    1. Thanks for the update! Very few choices these days!!

    2. I just ran out of my last box of Unisol. I have worn soft, disposable lenses for over 20 years and am allergic to everything except Unisol. I have to be able to put the preservative-free, simple saline directly into my eye. Is Purilens identical to Unisol?

    3. The company says it is just like unisol. It is a nonpreserved saline.

    4. Purilens solution is identical to Unisol 4 and was actually produced on the same assembly line for years