There are four steps to cleaning your soft contact lenses: cleaning, rinsing, disinfecting and storing. You will also need to periodically remove protein build-up from your lenses using an enzymatic cleaner.
Many people use a multi-purpose solution to take care of their soft contact lenses. These solutions can clean, rinse and disinfect your contact lenses; some can also be used to store your contact lenses. However, due to allergies or other complications, some contact lens wearers must use a hydrogen peroxide system of cleaning. The hydrogen peroxide system requires two bottles, one of hydrogen peroxide and one of neutralizer. Consult with your physician to decide which system is right for you.
Whichever cleaning solution you use, start the cleaning process by washing your hands and drying them on a lint-free towel. Remove the first lens and cup it in the palm of your hand. (Many people find it helpful to start with the same contact lens, either the right or the left, each time.) If you use a multi-purpose solution, pour enough into your palm to partially submerge the lens. Rub the lens around in the solution for about 30 seconds or until the lens appears completely clear. Rinse the lens by running a small stream of solution over the lens. Place the lens in a storage case filled with storage solution. (The storage solution may be the same as your cleaning and rinsing solution.)
If you use a hydrogen peroxide solution, you can follow the first two steps above, submerging your cupped lens in the neutralizing solution instead of the multi-purpose solution. Place the neutralized lenses in their case and fill the case three-quarters full of hydrogen peroxide. Shake the case for 20 seconds and then let stand for five minutes. Repeat the process. Drain the hydrogen peroxide and fill the case with neutralizing solution. Let the case stand for 10 minutes, shake for 20 seconds and then drain the neutralizing solution. Repeat the process. Fill the case with neutralizing solution for the final time. Let the lenses rest in the neutralizing solution overnight.
The lens cases themselves also need frequent cleaning. After each use, rinse and air-dry your case. Some practitioners recommend using multi-purpose or neutralizing solution for this, not water.
You will also need to remove protein deposits from your lenses using an enzyme solution. To do this, you should put a drop of enzyme solution in each case after both lenses have been thoroughly cleaned. Let the lenses rest in the enzyme solution overnight with their storage solution. Different doctors may recommend that you do this on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
To keep your eyes and contact lenses at their best, you should follow a few extra precautionary tips. First, do not sleep in your contact lenses, even to take a short nap. Sleeping in contact lenses prevents your eyes from receiving the oxygen they need. Wait to put on makeup, hand lotion or aftershave until after you have put in your contacts. Do not trade contacts with anyone and do not wash your contacts with tap or distilled water. Remove your contacts before swimming and try not to expose yourself to too much air pollution, smog and dust. Finally, be aware that there are eye drops (sometimes called “artificial tears”) for those whose eyes dry out when using contacts.