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Contact lens care has come a long way in the last few decades. While some people do (and have to) use saline, there are now a number of other options available, including a variety of multipurpose solution formulas that are gentle on the eyes while also effective at keeping the lenses clean, especially with a little time and care.
Also available on the market is a cleaning system that involves both 3% hydrogen peroxide and a special case that includes a small plastic bottle, along with a lid that is connected to two contact storage baskets and a ring of platinum. The hydrogen peroxide works by reacting with a platinum disc, creating a bubbling action that cleans and disinfects the contacts in the baskets. The process takes 6-8 hours before the platinum turns the hydrogen peroxide into saline.
It’s very important to follow the directions on the package: in particular, it’s critical not to take the contacts out prematurely, or to use the hydrogen peroxide as a cleaning agent like you’d use multipurpose solution. Doing so could put hydrogen peroxide into your eyes, which could cause intense pain and even permanent eye damage. Likewise, you should never substitute regular standalone hydrogen peroxide for the stuff in the contact lens system box; they’re not formulated the same way.
That might sound a bit scary, but if you follow the instructions carefully, the cleaning system is very effective at keeping contacts clean and clear.
The most popular version of the hydrogen peroxide cleaning solution is the Alcon’s brand name Clear Care Cleaning and Disinfecting Solution, available just about anywhere contact products are sold. There are also a number of generic versions of the system available, including Target’s Up&Up Cleaning and Disinfecting Lens Care System and Walmart’s Equate Cleaning & Disenfecting Lens Care System. In the past, the generic versions were really inferior to the brand-name version, in part because the generics, for whatever reason, placed the platinum ring in the clear plastic case rather than as part of the lid. This meant pouring the liquid directly onto the platinum, which caused a number of different problems. Target and Walmart have since reworked their cases, though, and, thankfully, they now look a lot like the Clear Care case. (At the time of this post, you’ll want to look for Target and Walmart cases that say “new and improved case” or something to that effect.)
There is a bit of a learning curve to using hydrogen peroxide-based cleaning systems. One problem that some people encounter during the learning process is the peroxide bubbling over, usually early in the cleaning process. This is annoying for a few reasons: it makes a mess around the case, it pulls liquid out of the case, and it potentially leaves the contact partially hanging above the liquid. This last part is particularly important, because it can cause the lens to dry out. Granted, most people use disposable contact lenses of some form, but it’s hardly good to have monthly contacts drying out when you still have a couple of weeks left with them.
Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to help reduce the risk. I’m happy to report that, with practice, you can eventually get to a point where the stuff never bubbles over at all.
Here are some ways to get there.
One, be sure not to fill the case over the line — and maybe fill it a tiny bit under. When you pour hydrogen peroxide into the case, be sure not to overfill the case. The line is there for a reason. I’ve discovered, though, that sometimes you can even underfill by a tiny amount — no more than a millimeter, and maybe less — which can help keep the foam from being too close to the case lid. Of course, if the liquid line is under your contact when you close the case, you’ve got a problem and you’ll want to add a bit to make sure that isn’t happening.
Two, be sure to squirt peroxide onto the contact basket and platinum ring for five seconds before screwing on the case. Many contact cleaning systems, including Clear Care, tell you to do this in the instructions, and it is an absolutely crucial step. I recommend standing over a sink, and, with a gentle squeeze, squirting on and around both contact baskets, and onto the platinum ring, for a full five seconds. For whatever reason, this is a major part of keeping things from bubbling over. Added note: I’m most likely to shortchange this step (and have it foam over) if I’m using a travel-sized bottle — probably because I’m worried about using it up — so be sure to squeeze it pretty hard and for the full time if you’re using a smaller bottle.
Three, be sure not to use other multipurpose solutions in the case. Rinsing the case with anything other than what comes in the Clear Care box — like BioTrue or Renu or some other multipurpose contact lens solution — is a surefire way to cause a bubble overload. These multipurpose solutions add to the foaming. Instead, only use the hydrogen peroxide that comes with Clear Care or the generic equivalent. When you rinse out the case, use the Clear Care hydrogen peroxide solution, and, if possible, let it air dry.
Four, do not shake the case. After you fill up the case and squirt the contact basket and platinum ring, gently screw on the case lid. Try to keep it steady and avoid shaking it, including if you have to walk over from, say, a sink to a spot where your keep your case. Doing this helps keep the hydrogen peroxide from reacting too much at the outset with the platinum ring.
What about you? Do you have any tips for using Clear Care or other hydrogen peroxide cleaning systems?