Using contact solution as eye drops isn’t a good idea and can even harm your eyes in the long run.
We understand the temptation. If you wear contacts and you experience eye allergies or dry eyes, it might seem like contact solution could provide relief. After all, it’s safe for your lenses, which go on your eyes!
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. In this article, we’ll explain why you shouldn’t substitute contact solution for eye drops and cover what can happen if the solution gets into your eye.
Is Contact Solution the Same as Eye Drops?
No, contact solution and eye drops are very different substances. Although contact wearers often use both—contact solution to clean and store their contacts and eye drops to keep their eyes healthy and moist—these liquids should always stick to their separate functions.
Contact Solution vs. Eye Drops
The purpose of contact solution is to disinfect and moisturize the lenses, whereas eye drops are meant to lubricate the eye and/or treat eye conditions. Since these liquids have distinct purposes, both have different ingredients and formulas.
Contact solution includes a variety of preservatives that aid in disinfecting contact lenses. Over time, proteins present in your eye can build up on your lenses, leading to infections if the lenses aren’t sanitized. Contact solution prevents these infections by cleansing the lenses of protein build-up, debris, residue, or dirt. That’s why it’s so important to clean your contact lenses regularly and store them in fresh solution when you aren’t wearing them.
Eye drops, on the other hand, are used to treat eye infections and other eye conditions, such as dry eyes, inflammation, pink eye (conjunctivitis), glaucoma, and more. Eye drops are a kind of medicine, so you shouldn’t miss doses or fail to use them as directed. Doing so can put your ocular health at risk!
Does Contact Solution Work as Eye Drops?
No, contact solution does not work in the same way eye drops do. Under no circumstances should you ever use contact solution as eye drops. (Even if you’re out of eye drops, please purchase more instead of using a substitute!)
Although contact solution does contain saline, which is safe for the eyes, it also contains other components that aren’t. Certain ingredients in the solution are meant to kill bacteria and germs and are toxic to living cells—including the ones in your eyes.
What Happens if You Put Contact Solution in Your Eyes?
At first, you may not notice anything unusual, but if the solution repeatedly goes into your eye, it can cause irritation, inflammation, and redness. If you consistently use contact solution as eye drops, it can damage your tear film and lead to persistent dryness.
Solutions containing hydrogen peroxide require you to be even more careful, as they can damage your cornea if they get into your eye without first being treated with a neutralizer.
What Can You Use Instead?
There are several types of eye drops meant for various eye issues, and only some eye drops are safe to use with contact lenses. If you wear contacts, it’s recommended to use rewetting eye drops or preservative-free eye drops, and you should also consult with your eye doctor to find the best option for you. Additionally, you should always check eye drop packaging to see if the drops are approved for use with contacts.
Avoid eye drops that are marketed to “get the red out,” as these aren’t safe for use with contacts. If you’re experiencing eye redness, talk to your eye doctor about drops that are approved for use with contacts that can also get rid of red eyes.
To Recap: Please Don’t Use Contact Solution as Eye Drops!
The long and short of it is this: You should never use contact solutions as a replacement for eye drops. They won’t fulfill the same function as eye drops, and they can even cause you to have eye problems down the line. Whatever eye drops you choose, be sure to use a separate, proper cleaning solution to keep your contacts fresh.