‘NO RUB’ CONTACT LENS SOLUTIONS? NOT SO FAST.
Cleaning contact lenses has never been a highlight of wearing contact lenses. Understandably, we all have other things we would rather be doing at the end of a long day. Contact lens solution companies figured that out years ago. The result was the creation of multipurpose contact lens solutions. Cleaner, rinsing solution, and disinfectant all rolled into one. The solutions that the companies created are very good. They are so good that the solutions do an adequate job of disinfecting the lenses with out rubbing them. As a result, many contact lens solutions have been proudly labeled as ‘No Rub’.
That would be great except for two little details. The first is that rubbing the lenses after each day’s wear is needed to remove the proteins, oils, and general biofilm that stick to the lenses. Simply soaking the lenses does not lift this gunk off the lenses. The other point is that rubbing the lenses doubles the disinfection activity of the solution. We don’t see a lot of eye infections related to contact lens wear. But we would certainly see fewer of them if patients rubbed their contacts after wearing them and did not ‘top off’ their soaking solution.
So what happens when we don’t rub our lenses? What happens if we don’t rub our contact lenses and wear them days or weeks longer than recommended before replacing them? Well… we do get infections. We also get inflammations under our upper eyelids. It’s subtle at first but with continual day after day exposure to coated lenses, normally comfortable lenses become very uncomfortable. Commonly patients must stop wearing their contacts all together until the inflammation is under control. Resolution can take weeks or months and can require expensive medications.
If you have contact lenses and you use them for a couple weeks or longer before replacement, take the time to rub them for 5 or 10 seconds with your multipurpose solution after you take them out. It isn’t exciting but it is important.