Yes, contact solution does expire. It’s never a good idea to soak your contact lenses in expired contact solution, even if the expiration date has passed quite recently. Doing so can cause damage to your contacts and eyes. 

In this article, we’ll explore how long contact solution lasts, the importance of the expiration date on contact solution, and the impact that expired solution can have on your ocular health. 

Why Does Contact Solution Expire?

As contact solution gets older, its acidity changes, which can cause the solution to lose its disinfecting properties. In other words, your solution won’t be as effective (or effective at all) after the expiration date.  

Additionally, old or expired contact solution can more easily become contaminated by roving germs. You definitely don’t want to be soaking your lenses in that, right? 

How Long Does Contact Solution Last?

Contact solution usually lasts around two years after its manufacturing date, assuming the bottle hasn’t been opened. Its lifespan will also depend on the brand you buy. 

So, how long does contact solution last after being opened? Again, it varies with the brand and the solution. Some preservative-free solutions last only 24 hours, while others may last one month (or even a little longer) after opening. According to the American Optometric Association, most open bottles of solution should be tossed once they hit the 90-day mark. 

If you’re using a hydrogen peroxide contact solution that comes with a case for submerging your lenses, then don’t use that case for more than 30 days. Get your hands on a new one!

Be sure to read the instructions that come with any kind of contact solution so you know how long it’s safe to use. Some bottles may display a discard date in addition to the expiration date. You should abide by whichever date is sooner when deciding whether to throw your solution away. If you’re still unsure, consult with your eye doctor. 

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Can You Use Expired Contact Solution? 

You should not use expired contact solution to clean or store your contacts. After a solution expires, it starts to lose its disinfecting properties, and therefore won’t clean your contacts as well as unexpired solutions. Your lenses may even become contaminated with impurities and/or bacteria. 

What Happens if You Use Expired Contact Solution?

Using expired contact solution to clean or store your contact lenses can irritate your eyes and leave them vulnerable to more serious conditions

In a worst-case scenario, your eyes could develop an infection (bacterial, fungal, or viral) that leads to vision loss. At best, your solution won’t disinfect your contacts well enough, and you could experience discomfort and redness as a result.

What To Do if You Use Expired Contact Solution

Let’s say you accidentally used expired contact solution—what should be your next step? First off, get rid of the solution and replace it with a fresh bottle. Fresh solution will give you the best comfort and vision while decreasing the chances of bacterial infection and other consequences, such as corneal ulcers. 

Be sure to rinse your lenses thoroughly with the new solution. Under no circumstances should you rinse them with water! Water contains bacteria and contaminants that can adhere to the lenses and harm the cornea. (This is why you should also never shower in contacts or swim in contacts.)

If you begin to experience signs of an eye infection or any bothersome eye-related symptoms, book an eye exam

How To Find the Expiration Date on Contact Solution

Illustration of a contact solution bottle label and location of the expiration date

A contact solution’s expiration date can be found on the bottle’s label (usually on the back). However, if you can’t find it or it’s been rubbed away, just throw out the solution and use a new one. It’s not worth the risk!

It’s Not Okay To Use Expired Contact Solution—Replace It Instead!

Even though it might not seem like a big deal, using expired contact solution is a bad call. It’s imperative to always replace expired contact solution with a fresh supply to keep your contacts germ-free and your eyes healthy.

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