Not emptying the solution out of your contact lens case after each use could cost you your sight. That's because solutions that are left over in the case after a disinfection cycle are essentially "dirty." Using fresh solution each time helps reduce the risk of problems.
"The solution no longer has the same effectiveness for disinfection as when it was freshly placed in the case," says Bernard Lepri, O.D., M.S., M.Ed., of the Division of Ophthalmic and Ear, Nose and Throat Devices in the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). "The leftover solution can have little disinfecting chemical left to kill bacteria and other micro-organisms that may contaminate your contact lenses and lead to serious eye infections."
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates all cosmetics marketed in the United States, including mascara, eye shadows, eye liner, concealers, and eyebrow pencils.
Safety experts within the Office of Cosmetics and Colors in FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) offer consumers the following advice:
Keep everything clean. Dangerous bacteria or fungi can grow in some cosmetic products, as well as their containers. Cleanliness can help prevent eye infections.
"FDA regulations require that a manufacturer who wants to market a new contact lens solution demonstrate that it is just as safe and effective as an already marketed product," Lepri says.
In January 2009, FDA convened a workshop called "Microbiological Testing of Contact Lens Care Products," in collaboration with several eye care professional groups. Held at FDA's White Oak facility in Silver Spring, Md., the workshop aimed to gain consensus on test methods for evaluating contact lens solutions and the development of Acanthamoeba keratitis, a rare but serious eye infection that's caused by a parasite.
FDA also convened a meeting of its Ophthalmic Devices Panel on June 10, 2008, to consider ways to improve contact lens safety. This group of outside experts gave input on updating the existing guidance for multipurpose contact lens care products. Multipurpose products are those that can be used to clean, disinfect, and rinse contact lenses.
FDA is revising the guidance document that specifically addresses the labeling and directions for use of contact lens care products and solutions.
Among the panel's recommendations on labeling and directions for use:
Contact lens solution manufacturers should include a discard date on their products, in addition to the usual expiration date. Consumers should never use expired products. The discard date is the date the solution should be thrown out after opening.
Contact lens wearers should rub and rinse their lenses for added effectiveness of cleaning and disinfection. This recommendation is consistent with advice from the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The direction to "Rub and Rinse" your lenses, based on the advice of your eye care professional, has always been part of "No Rub" consumer labeling for multipurpose care products.
The rub and rinse method is similar to washing one’s hands. The multipurpose solution is placed on the lens in the palm of the hand. With the index finger of the opposite hand, the solution is rubbed over the surface of the contact lens for 5 to 10 seconds. The lens is turned over and the procedure is repeated.