Saline Solution vs. Contact Lens Solution: What’s the Real Difference?

a hand holding saline solution bottle

Keeping your contact lenses clean is crucial in order to avoid eye infection, irritation or worse. If you use contact lenses, you’ll know that there are a couple kinds of solution available with which to clean your contacts.

Saline solution and contact lens solution are the two main ones. Many people imagine them to be the same thing. However, they aren’t. Mistaking them as such can lead to problems.

We're here to give you the rundown on the difference between these two types of solutions. So relax! You won't have to learn the hard way.

Contact Lens Solution vs Saline Solution

Let's go into detail about some of the differences of both solutions. We’ll explore what they should be used for, and why it's good for your health to use each one properly.

What Is Contact Lens Solution?

contact lens on fingertip with contact lens solution dripping in

Contact lens solution is the primary product you use to store and clean your contact lenses. It was developed in response to an early, heat-driven solution used in the 1970s after contact lenses really hit the market.

The first iteration of lens cleaners used electricity and heat to disinfect lenses. Then contact solution was a far easier, simpler option for cleaning. These solutions usually consist of a few parts. Some preserve the lens, while other parts work to moisturize and disinfect the lenses.

Contact lens solutions are the preferred method for storing and cleaning, as we've mentioned. This can lead people to mistake contact lens solution for saline solution.

What Is Saline Solution?

While important, saline solution serves just one purpose: to clean your contacts before you put them in your eyes. Saline solution is pH-balanced saltwater.

While there are a variety of saline solutions on the market, most of them share the same qualities and uses. Before modern contact lens solutions came into creation, they often came in packages with different parts.

For example, some liquids would be used to disinfect, some to store, some to remove proteins, etc. Saline solution was also present early on as an agent used to rinse off contacts before they went onto the eyes.

A lot of contact lens solutions include a cleaning agent, making saline solution unnecessary. However, there are still some cleaning solutions that should be supplemented with a saline solution. Ask your optometrist if you aren’t sure if the solution you use is one of them.

Just in Case It Wasn't Clear

contact lenses on clear background

To recap, contact lens solution should be the primary product you use to clean and store your contact lenses. Lens solution helps to disinfect your contacts and break down proteins. That way, it maintains a good level of cleanliness for your lenses. And subsequently, it gives you better hygiene for your eyes.

Dirty lenses can contribute to things like infection and irritation, potentially leading to blindness in the most extreme cases. But just because they're extreme, doesn't mean you're exempt from the possibility!

You should use saline solution to rinse off your lenses before you put them in. They’re made of a pH-balanced saltwater solution that’s gentle on your eyes. It allows you to be sure that your lenses are clean. Never use saline solution to store lenses or even clean them; only to rinse them.

More Things to Keep in Mind

Your optometrist can give you suggestions on the use and maintenance of your contact lenses. They will know exactly how to take care of your lenses in order to keep them clean, protect your eyes and properly correct your vision.

If you're at all confused about the specifics of your prescription or what to do, you can always give your optometrist a call. If they are unavailable, someone in the office is likely to be trained to answer questions about saline solutions and contact solutions.

How to Handle Your Lenses

contact lens case and solution on towel

Contact lens and saline solutions are crucial parts of your regimen. At the same time, you need to make sure that dirt and bacteria from your fingers aren't getting onto your lenses and eyes.

Make sure that you thoroughly wash your hands with a mild soap before you handle your contacts. That means using a soap that doesn't have oils or lotions. These products typically don't have strong scents or odors, as they refrain from the use of perfumes.

After you wash up, make sure that you dry your hands with a clean towel. You should also check that you haven’t transferred any lint from the towel to your hands.

Handle Your Lenses Correctly

Make sure that you're handling the lenses with only your fingertips. Because they're so small and thin, it may be tempting to use your fingernails to pick the lenses up. It may even seem like a good idea to use a tweezer to grab them.

However, you should only use your fingertips. This prevents scratches and tears from happening to your lenses. Either one could irritate or infect your eyes. Additionally, dirt from under your fingernails or on the tips of your tweezers could easily transfer from the surfaces and end up in your eyes.

Always check each lens before you put it in. Just making sure that everything looks smooth, moist and dirt-free can make all the difference in the long-run.

A final note to keep in mind is that your optometrist certainly understands the nature of contact lenses more than you do. Especially if you're just getting them for the first time.

This may seem obvious, but it’s a bad idea to try to extend the lifespan of your contacts. If the replacement schedule of your lenses is every couple of weeks, don't take that lightly. Always follow the instructions for your contacts strictly.

In the Market for Lenses?

If you're in the market for contact lens and saline solutions, you're probably looking for a set of high-quality lenses as well. Visit our site to learn more about the world of contact lenses and which one is likely to work best for you!

Shop Contacts