Ask an Eye M.D. Answer Archive

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Question:
What type of liquid soap can I wash my hands with before handling contacts?

Answer:
Good for you for washing your hands before putting your contacts in! You should always handle contacts with clean hands; this includes when you are putting them in and when you are removing them. Almost any soap will do, as long as you rinse the soap off completely. Some sources suggest using soaps without moisturizers because of the residue the moisturizers can leave on your hands, but I have not found this to be a problem. The best routine to have is:

  • Wash your hands and rinse thoroughly with water.
  • Inspect your contacts before you put them in—there may be eyelashes or residue on the contacts or they may have dried out overnight.
  • If the contacts look fine, rinse them with sterile saline, and insert.
  • And the most important message—make sure the contacts feel comfortable. If your contacts aren't comfortable, something is wrong—take them out! You may have an eyelash or material under the contacts, you may have gotten unrinsed soap in your eye, the contacts might have a torn edge, or they might be inside out. Or, the problem may be with your eye—the contacts are fine, but you are developing an infection or you have a dry eye. Remove the contact, inspect it, rinse it, and try again.

If the contact still isn't comfortable, do not wear it. Wear your glasses for the day and try again in the evening. If the contacts still aren't comfortable at this time, call your ophthalmologist or Eye M.D. Never wear an uncomfortable lens. Pain, redness, tearing, or blurry vision with contacts is not normal. It is a sign that something is wrong with the lens or your eye.

Just a note here: Always dump out the contact lens solution in the morning and use fresh solution every evening when you remove the contacts. Make sure the contacts are covered in the solution. I've had a contact inside the case but stuck to the top and it is like a potato chip in the morning! Do not attempt to rehydrate a dried-out lens—toss it out and start with a fresh one!

Answered by: Anne Sumers, MD Dr. Anne Sumers

Categories: Vision Correction, General Eye Health

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Answered: Mar 06, 2013

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