Contact lens solution should not be used as eye drops. Even though some of the contact lens solutions have ingredients like hyaluronic acid in them which also can be found in eye drops they do not produce the same results in the long run.
Because contact lens solutions are produced to reduce disinfect and store your lenses. So some of the ingredients are toxic to microbes and to the eye’s cells. In addition to that, you will find ingredients like preservatives that make it easier to store the contact lens solution.
In most cases, people would not put some toxic agents on their eyes be ok with this. But most contact lens wearers simply do not know what is in their contact lens solutions. Oftentimes one or multiple of the following ingredients can be found in the cleaning solutions:
- Benzalkonium chloride
- Boric acid
Those ingredients can influence the comfort of wearing your contact lenses because they could interact with the cells on your eye. One example benzalkonium chloride is used as a preservative to increase the product shelf life. While this sounds great in theory when you read it what about the side effects of benzalkonium chloride when it comes into contact with your eyes? Well, read on…
- Increases drug penetration
- Disrupts tight junctions (Allergens, irritants, and pollutants do this to varying degrees and can make lasting changes to the epithelium)
- Accelerates epithelial desquamation (cells get less stable)
- Promotes apoptosis at low concentrations and necrosis at high concentrations
- Stimulates production of inflammatory cytokines
- Reduces aqueous production (could lead to less tear production)
- Causes reversible and non-reversible neurotoxicity, reducing nerve fiber density
This is why you should not use contact lens solutions like eye drops. Because only one of the ingredients could even cause long-lasting effects and make your eyes actually more prone to allergies and dry eyes. Of course when they get combined the interplay of the used substances also influences the outcome. Benzalkonium chloride is only found in a concentration range from 0.004% to 0.02% in the cleaning solutions.
But as you read in the list below it increases drug penetration and pathways for other allergens, irritants, and pollutants. So other ingredients have a better chance of interacting with your eye’s cells.
So You Should Never Use Contact Lens Solutions and Instead Just Use Eye Drops?
This what I would recommend especially when you plan to wear contact lenses in the long run. When you used your contact lens solutions in the past a few times as eye drops just use real eye drops from now on. As you read in the list above it is not recommended to put something on your eye which promotes apoptosis even at low concentrations which stand for programmed cell death.
When you just get some eye drops you actually might not be better off compared to using your contact lens solutions because some of the ingredients can also be found in eye drops. So make sure if you want to use them buy the ones without preservatives.
One easy way to reduce the exposure of toxic substances on your eye with contacts is to switch to rinse the contact lenses with saline which is preservative-free. A lot of people make the mistake of believing when they get fresh one-day contacts they do not need to rinse them before putting them on the eyes. But why do you think can daily contact lenses stored for years before use? Right because preservatives get added so the lenses stay fresh in the blister.
So always rinse your contacts with the right saline. In a lot of cases, my customers then ask me if this ingredient is probably the only thing causing such problems? And no. Let us talk about Chlorhexidine for a second the potential side effects that could come with it.
Chlorhexidine can cause allergic reactions. It is also stored in soft contact lens materials when used and can damage the cornea. You should therefore not wear soft contact lenses while you are using the eye drops. So keep your eyes here too to the preservative-free options when you buy your next eye drops. When you look at very popular eye drops like Systane you will find multiple of the above-listed ingredients. For example, the ingredients listed are:
- Boric acid
The European Chemicals Agency added boric acid as a candidate to the list of substances of very high concern in June 2010. This substance is toxic to reproduction. Of course, it is found in very low concentrations in eye drops. But I think having them not in eye drops, in general, would be better.
Frankly spoken there is no effect without an influence elsewhere when it comes to contact lens solutions and eye drops. But you should be informed about what you are using on a daily basis. For example, I have customers that had a lot of problems with their contact lenses and dry eye symptoms. For some of them, the solution to the problem was to not drop the contact lens solution in the eyes anymore and after a few days, dry eyes were not a problem anymore.
This is the basic step everybody knowledge everybody should know. But sometimes I need to switch the contact lens solution entirely to optimize the comfort of my customers. In most cases switching people from an all-in-one solution to a peroxide solution in combination with the preservative-free solution works really well.
Do not use your contact lens solution as eye drops. It might cause issues in the long run which could lead to dry eyes, allergies, or not being able to wear contact lenses. When you have an eye on the ingredients listed below and you minimize the contact to preservatives during your contact lens wear you will have fewer issues with a bad tear film. Perform checkups of your lenses regularly. Your optician will be happy to help you out with advice on what contact lens solution works best for you and what eye drops you should use.
I wish you a great day.