Reduced comfort when wearing contact lenses and reduced wearing time are commonly symptoms of dirty contact lenses. Learn what to do to stop lenses from developing deposits and how to clean contact lens.
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Treating dirty contact lenses.

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Reduced comfort while wearing contact lenses and reduced wearing times are common symptoms of dirty contact lenses. What can we do to stop lenses from developing deposits? Is there anything we can do to keep our contacts more clean? And once they are dirty, how can we clean and remove the deposits?

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Causes of contact lens deposits 
Some causes of dirty contact lens and techniques to keep them clean are:

Too long wearing time 
This can include keeping contact lenses longer than the recommended time, for example using monthly wear lenses that extra week before you dispose of them. You may also have to reduce your wearing time each day by inserting them later or removing them earlier each day. If you are going out and plan a late night, it is a good idea to remove and clean your contact lenses while you get ready, then reinsert them before you leave. 

Overnight or extended wear 
Wearing contact lenses overnight can result in the lenses tending to dry, causing deposits on the lens surface with subsequent ocular irritation. If your lenses are continually dirty then it might be time to stop wearing them on an extended wear basis and instead remove them each night. 

Monthly replacement contact lenses
If your lenses are replaced monthly, then no matter how well you clean them by the end the month they will not be as fresh as when they were first opened. If you find that regardless of how well you care for your lenses they still become dirty towards the end of their wearing time, then you should have your eyes refitted with daily replacement lenses.

Environment 
Environments such as in air-conditioning and windy, dusty conditions will cause your eyes and contact lenses to dry causing irritation of the ocular surface. This will cause your eyes to secrete more mucus making the contact lenses dirty. If you are in air-conditioning or a dusty environment it would be prudent to insert lubricating eyedrops regularly. If you are outside and it is windy you should wear wrap-around style sunglasses to protect your eyes from the wind. 

Poorly fitted lenses
if contact lenses are not fitted correctly they can move too much, causing ocular irritation. This will lead to increased secretion of mucus and protein from the tears glands leading to contact lenses deposits. You must ensure that your contact lenses are fitted correctly. 

Contact lens material 
Some contact lens materials are more prone to deposits. Silicon hydrogel materials have the advantage of higher oxygen permeability but the disadvantage that the earlier generation materials sometimes do not wet as well as a hydrogel type contact lens. If a new generation material such as Dailies Total One still results in contact lens discomfort due deposits, then it might be worthwhile to try a hydrogel contact lens material. If soft contact lens are unable to be worn then you should consider refitting with a deposit resistant Hard Gas Permeable contact lens.

Contact lens solutions 
As their name indicates, multipurpose solutions are designed to both clean, sanitise and wet contact lenses. As such, they are sometimes a compromise. Hydrogen peroxide based systems such as AOSept are generally more effective in maintaining a good contact lens surface. 

Improper or inadequate cleaning of lenses 
With time, some contact lens wearers tend to become lazy with their cleaning regime and cease rubbing the contact lens surface with solution each night. It is essential that you rub your contact lens with contact lens solution after removing the lenses. This mechanical action with the surfactant in the contact lens solution will remove surface deposits from the lenses.  If contact lenses are not clean even after using a multipurpose solution, it may be time to use a separate cleaner and there are several of these available on the market. One particularly effective cleaner available online is alcohol based and called Miraflow. It is used nightly upon removal of your lenses prior to overnight soaking in your storage solution.

Protein removing solutions or tablets
A separate protein solution is available for use monthly or upon indication. One particularly good solution for hard contact lenses is called Progent. This is a very alkaline solution which will remove surface deposits from all hard contact lenses. An A and B capsule are mixed together and the lenses soaked in the solution for one hour. Afterwards the lenses are rinsed and stored in the normal solution overnight before wearing. Progent cannot be used with soft contact lenses. For soft contact lenses there are available protein tablets and protein solutions which contain an enzymatic cleaner to dissolve protein off the contact lens surface.

Medication
Some medications can cause ocular dryness leading to increased deposits on the contact lens. Some of these medications include oral contraceptives, antihistamines, beta-blockers and antidepressants. If all else fails, it might be useful to talk to your prescribing practitioner about this to see if there are any other alternatives to your existing medication.

Smoking 
Smokers tend to have increased deposits on the contact lenses. Obviously the only solution here is to stop smoking!

Excessive protein content in your tears
Some people are prone to deposits on their contact lenses because they have a higher proportion of protein in their tears than the average person. Unfortunately, nothing can be done about this other than ensuring that daily replacement contact lenses are fitted rather than fortnightly or monthly replacement lenses.

Dry eye
Contact lenses drying up will cause irritation of the ocular tissue with subsequent lens surface deposits. Use a preservative-free daily lubricant such as Refresh or Hylofresh. An eyedrop such as Blink’n’Clean can also be used for both soft and hard lenses as this contains a mucolytic which dissolves mucus from the contact lens surface. Dry eye strategies can be found here

Improper care of the contact lens case
Dirty contact lens caseIf you care for your contact lenses but store them in a dirty lens case then this can only lead to problems. The lens case must be cleaned weekly and disposed of when you replace your lens care solutions. More lens case tips can be found here.

Personal hygiene 
Dirty and greasy hands will result in deposits on your contact lenses. Ensure you wash your hands thoroughly before handling your lenses. 

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WebContacts Pty Ltd is not offering individual advice on contact lens wear and provides a contact lens replacement service. Always follow your eye care practitioner's advice for the proper use and care of your contact lenses and have your eyes examined regularly. If you experience any pain or discomfort from your contact lenses, discontinue use immediately and consult your eye care practitioner.