Can You Rinse Contacts With Water?


Cleaning your contact lenses is important for your lens’s longevity and eye health. But sometimes you go to your cleaning solution, and you find that the bottle is empty. Some people have even reported forgetting to pack it along on their trip.

But using water instead of the solution would be a dangerous mistake. This article will discuss why water is dangerous in cleaning your contact lenses.

Why Is Water Unsafe for My Contact Lenses?

Water contains microscopic particles that can stick to your contact lenses, making it harmful to your eye. You might wonder why water is considered safe to drink and unsafe for your eye.

This is because the body, unlike the cornea of the eye, contains a network of blood arteries that would allow immune cells to be delivered. However, the cornea does not have these, which makes eye infections through bacteria very possible.

Why is Tap Water Bad For Contacts?

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Your lenses can be cleaned and sterilized using a contact solution, which is sterile. However, the disinfecting qualities of contact lens solutions are not present in tap water.

Tap water, well water, lake water, and other water sources usually contain an amoeba form called acanthamoeba. When it touches the eye, this parasite causes a serious eye infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis.

Is It Ok If I Wash My Contact Lenses in Distilled Water?

You might think distilled water or bottled water is clean, but they are not sterile. They may still harbor microorganisms like live acanthamoeba that can harm your contact lenses and eye.

Rinsing your eyes with distilled water, or any other water for that matter, can result in discomfort when wearing lenses, and the worst case is that the lenses may stick to your eye.

Instead of water, it is always recommended to employ fresh solution for cleaning your contact lenses.

What Happens if You Put Contacts in Water?

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Apart from Acanthamoeba keratitis, which can lead to painful, severe, and stubborn corneal infection, there are more things tap water can do to your contacts. (But you should also note that Acanthamoeba keratitis can cause permanent vision loss or blindness).

Risks Of Putting Contact Lenses in Water

Water can cause your contacts to lose or change shape, making them ill-fitting. Ill-fitted contact lenses slip out of place too often, become uncomfortable, and it can even get stuck to your eye.

When you wear contact lenses that have been stored in water (even temporarily), it can lead to eye irritation, eye redness, dry eye, blurry vision, eye pain, corneal abrasion, or in some cases, loss of vision or the need for a corneal transplant.

Who Says I Can’t Rinse Contacts Underwater?

Countless medical and health organizations have repeatedly cited that water must never be used to disinfect contact lenses. Below are some of the statements from these medical associations.

The American Optometric Association advised that tap water increases the risk of severe type of ocular infections, including the possibility to contact Acanthamoeba keratitis.

The Scleral Lens Education Society warns that using water for contact lens care threatens vision. They also strictly advise only rinsing lenses with sterile saline or using other specifically designed contact solutions for proper lens care.

Some of which include multipurpose solution, saline solution, or the cleaning solution that came with your contact lens case.

The CDC also emphasizes that water and contact lenses should never be combined, and all contact lenses should be kept away from water. If there’s any contact in water, the contact lens should be discarded or disinfected with a proper contact solution.

Finally, the EPA advises against using tap water, homemade solutions, and other non-sterile solutions for disinfecting and storing contacts.

What To Do With Contact Lenses That Touched Water?

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The best thing to do with contact lenses that have touched water is to disinfect it immediately with sterile solution. However, if it’s a situation of contacts in water, where the contact lenses have been submerged in water for a while, the best option is to throw it out and get a new one.

This is because the contacts would have contacted too many bacteria that can lead to serious infections for your eye.

Remember that getting new contacts should be down to your eye doctor. Never try to get contacts on your own without proper prescription to avoid the risk of ill-fitted lenses.

How To Protect Contacts From Water?

The easiest way to protect your contacts is to keep it in a contact lens solution. But what about when you wan to wear them? Here are the following things to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t store your contacts in water. That’s pretty straightforward.
  2. Don’t use your contacts when swimming or showering, even in the hot tub.
  3. It’s never a great idea to clean your contacts or the contact case in tap water.
  4. Rid your hands of water before touching your contact lenses.
  5. Always have an extra bottle of contact solution, in case of emergencies.

How To Store Contacts?

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The easy way out is to keep your contacts in its case. Also, keep the contact case where water cannot splash onto it. Keep it away from direct sunlight, or from heat-susceptible areas.

Read also:

Is Saline Solution the Same as Contact Solution?

Contact solutions and saline solutions are not the same thing. Contact solutions are formulated to disinfect lenses, while saline solutions are used to rinse lenses after they’ve been disinfected. So, if you wear contacts, make sure you’re using the right solution for the job!

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Taking proper care of your lenses is necessary for good eye health. Even if you’re in a pinch, do NOT resort to using water on your contacts. Despite how tempting it may be, never put them in water, as it can lead to various issues.