For the most part, there are four different chemicals, or solutions that you will use to clean and store your contact lenses. Depending on the disinfection system that you use, the amount of time required to clean your lenses can be as long as two hours, and as short as five minutes. In addition, some brands may offer solutions that only require one chemical for the entire cleaning and storage process.
The solution that you will use most is sterile saline. This liquid is most like the tears that lubricate your eye, and is safe to use in your eyes. Before putting your contact lenses in, you may want to rinse them with saline. In addition, this is the solution that you will use to store your lenses if you are not going to wear them for a while. Saline is also used to rinse in between the soaping and disinfection step in several systems.
Next, after your remove your contact lenses, you will need to wash them with soap in order to remove any salts, and other deposits. The disinfection system that you use will list the solutions that are compatible. You should not use regular bar soap, or any other kind of detergent that is not specifically made for contact lenses. Today, there are many disinfection systems that eliminate the need for this step.
In order to disinfect your contact lenses, almost all systems use hydrogen peroxide, which is then neutralized by the addition of a second chemical. Many older systems required two hours to completely neutralize the peroxide, as well as ensure that the lenses were sterile. Today, there are many systems available that can accomplish the same goal in under five minutes. In addition, these solutions may not require you to rinse the lenses with saline before putting them in your eye.
Finally, if you are planning to use your contacts for more than one week, you will need a special tablet to remove deposits that do not come off with soap. Typically, you will use these enzyme tablets a minimum of once a week, or more if you notice that your lenses feel uncomfortable. Depending on the system that you select for disinfecting your lenses, you will need to purchase tablets that will work with it.
Today, there are a wide range of cleaning and storage chemicals available for your contact lenses. When choosing a system, it is important to consider how well it will fit into your schedule, as well as how useful it will be in an emergency. As an example, you may well want to keep a two hour disinfection system for overnight cleaning, and a five minute system with you in case your lenses fall out while you are away from home.