Saline solution, also called normal saline solution, is a pH-balanced mixture of water and salt (sodium chloride, if you want to sound fancy). And no, it’s not the same as contact solution. But more on that in a bit.

Saline solution contains 0.9% salt. And fun fact: That closely resembles the concentration of salt found in our blood and tears. Saline is often used in the medical field to clean wounds, clear out sinuses, and treat dehydration. However, it can also play an important part in caring for your eyes and contact lenses

Although saline solution has a wide variety of uses, this article will focus on how it’s used for your eyes and contacts. Let’s dive in. 

Saline Solution vs. Contact Solution

Infographic comparing saline solution and contact solution

Saline solution and contact solution aren’t the same and shouldn’t be used in the same way for contact lens care. Saline solution is strictly a combination of salt and water, whereas contact solution contains other ingredients for cleaning and sterilization purposes. Although contact solution often incorporates saline into its formula, it also includes disinfectants, surfactants, wetting solutions, and preservatives. 

What Does Contact Solution Do?

Contact solution is used to clean and disinfect your contact lenses. Its main duties are to kill germs and bacteria and to clear away any residue on your contacts. If you’re using a multipurpose contact solution, you can also use it to rinse your contacts and store them when they’re not in your eyes. 

What Does Saline Solution Do for Contacts?

Using saline can be an important step in caring for your contact lenses, but it definitely shouldn’t be the only step or product you use. Think of saline solution and contact solution as the power couple of contact lens care. Saline solution can be a great addition to your contact lens care routine alongside a multipurpose or disinfecting contact solution. 

Your contact solution handles the first step of disinfecting your lenses. But saline can be used after your contact solution to rinse off your contacts before putting them in your eyes. Rinsing helps remove any excess debris or particles from the lenses, making them safe for your eyes. 

Multipurpose contact solutions can be used for both cleaning and rinsing, but your eye doctor might recommend saline solution for rinsing, depending on the products you’re using.

The key thing to remember when it comes to saline solution for contacts is that saline solution doesn’t disinfect your lenses. Because of this, you shouldn’t use saline solution on its own (without a disinfecting contact solution) or for storing your lenses. 

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Can You Put Saline Solution in Your Eyes?

Yes, saline solution is safe to put in your eyes. In fact, it can serve many useful purposes in caring for your eyes.

So, what does saline do for eyes (aside from being a rinse for contacts)? Saline is also an effective solution for:

Can You Put Contact Solution in Your Eyes?

No, contact solution is not safe to put directly in your eyes. It may contain chemical substances, like hydrogen peroxide, that can cause irritation, inflammation, and redness. Even worse, it can permanently damage your eyes. 

Homemade Saline Solution

The ingredients of saline solution are simple, as you now know—just salt and water. So you might wonder if you can make a homemade saline solution. But let us stop you right there. 

Homemade saline solution should never be used in or around your eyes. That means you can’t use it to rinse your contact lenses or to flush your eyes with any degree of safety. 

Homemade saline is less sterile than store-bought solutions, and it’s more easily compromised by germs and other particles in the air. When it comes to saline for your eyes, it’s best to purchase a saline solution from your local drugstore or pharmacy—or through your eye doctor. 

What Is Saline Solution: The Bottom Line

Depending on your contact care routine, saline solution may play an important role. 

Talk to your eye doctor about whether you should incorporate saline into your routine. Your doctor can advise you when and how to properly use the solution. They can also recommend preferred brands of saline solution to ensure you’re using high-quality products near your eyes. 

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