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How To Make Your Very Own Contact Solution

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By Johnny Bevers

If you wear contact lenses, then you are aware that contact lens solution is a regular part of your monthly budget.  While contact solution doesn’t cost a whole lot, it is a regular expense and one that it would be nice to cut down on.  Well, seeing as contact solution is fundamentally just salt and water, it is possible to make your own contact solution to cut down on costs, but a lot of care should be taken.  In fact, so much care needs to be taken, that I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are a chemistry major or the like.  It’s not that it is difficult per se (it isn’t,) or that the ingredients are hard to find, (they aren’t.)  It’s that the consequences are so high should you make a mistake in creating your liquid.  I recommend that you consider this article a guide to use should you ever find yourself in a situation where you desperately need a contact solution but are unable to get to the shops or simply can’t find any.  Don’t use home-made contact solution as a long term measure unless you are completely confident in your laboratory skills and your chemical and biological knowledge.

The Dangers Of Making Your Own Contact Solution

Think carefully about whether you wish to make your own contact solution. Sure, the monetary savings can be considerable, but we are talking about your eyes.  I would consider a home-made contact solution something to use in a pinch when my commercially bought solution wasn’t available, not something to use on a long term basis.  The main danger comes from the solution becoming contaminated; either during storage or while you are making it.  This is why it is essential to always use properly sterilized equipment.  If your solution does become contaminated with a bacteria or parasite then the long term consequences to your eyes could be considerable.

Sterilization

When making contact solution it is imperative that any equipment you use, such as scales, funnels, teaspoons etc be completely clean and sterilized.  This is very important!  You can sterilize you equipment and containers by soaking them in a mix of one tablespoon of bleach to one liter of water for five minutes.  After five minutes, rinse everything thoroughly with distilled water.

Contact Solution Ingredients

Contact solution is simply saline solution, that is, salt and water. But don’t just grab some salt from the cupboard and mix it up with some tap water!

The ingredients you use must be of a high quality and exactly as specified here.

The first of your two ingredients is water.  You need distilled water. Distilled water is water that has been boiled and its steam condensed in a sterilized container.  Hence it is extremely clean and pure.  You can buy distilled water by the gallon from most grocery stores for about a dollar.  If you can find some distilled water that is specifically designed for contact solution and says so on the bottle, so much the better.  It is then recommended that you boil the water in a clean, sterilized pan and allow it to cool.  This is to further sterilize the solution, to make it as pure as possible.

The second of your two ingredients is the salt.  Most of the salt commercially available in supermarkets and grocery stores really isn’t pure enough for contact solution.  This is because it contains additives that are primarily used to stop the salt caking together in the jar.  You do not want these additives in your eyes!  Your best option is to buy sodium chloride from either a local pharmacy that stocks it or from a laboratory supply firm.  Do not, I repeat, do not just use any old salt.

You will also need a clean, sterilized container to mix your contact solution in.  Perhaps the best container to use would be a bottle that previously contained distilled water and that you have emptied out.  Alternatively you could use an old water bottle that has been cleaned, sterilized and then thoroughly rinsed with distilled water.  The best size bottle to use is a one-liter sized bottle, or a one-quart bottle.

Instructions For Making Contact Solutions

Try to be as exact as possible in your measurements, but you don’t have to worry too much.  As mentioned previously, it is the sterilization of your equipment and containers that is the most important thing, not the exact quantities of the ingredients.  Let’s start by refreshing our knowledge of quantity measurements.  One gallon is equal to four quarts or 3.78 liters or 16 cups.  One liter is 4.22 cups. Ok?

So, let’s say a quart is equal to a liter.  It isn’t exactly, but it’s close enough for our purposes and enables you to use whichever measurement you are most comfortable with.  Take your clean, sterilized one-liter or one-quart bottle and fill it carefully with distilled water.  If you are using a funnel to do this then ensure that this is clean and sterilized also.  Now, use your digital kitchen scales, which you cleaned and sterilized thoroughly (you did do this, right?) to measure out eight grams of your salt, or sodium chloride rather. If you don’t have any digital kitchen scales then don’t worry too much; eight grams is approximately the same as a well-heaped teaspoon, so use a clean, sterilized teaspoon instead.  Add this salt to the distilled water, put the cap on the bottle and shake well until the sodium chloride is completely dissolved.  You now have contact solution which you can use as you would your usual solution.

If you have any discomfort when using the solution, it is probably because you added too much salt, so simply add more distilled liquid to your solution.  You may need to pour some of your contact solution away first to make more space in the bottle.  I must reiterate here that it is probably because you used too much salt.  Alternatively, it could be because you didn’t sterilize your equipment properly and your eyes are becoming infected.  This consequence is obviously not something to be taken lightly, but unless you are an optician it is unlikely that you will know what exactly the cause of any discomfort you are feeling is.

Storing Your Contact Solution

Once you have made your contact solution, you need to store it in a cool, dark place; this is imperative as storing it in a light place will mean that bacteria will begin to thrive in the solution.  A cool, dark cupboard seems the most suitable place.

The Best Contact Solution On The Market

If you feel that making your own contact solution isn’t worth the risk, then you need a good commercial solution or solutions to use instead.  Consult your optician to determine which the best solution is for you and your contact lenses.  Most popular is a multi-purpose solution which can be used to clean and store your contact lenses prior to insertion.  Biotrue Multi-Purpose Solution has a good reputation, but once again I must stress that this is a decision to be made by yourself and/or your optician.

A quick search on the internet will find you lots of quotes from people who have been making their own contact solution for decades with no adverse affects.  You will also find a much lesser amount of quotes from people who have experienced serious problems from using a home-made contact solution.  It should be fairly clear from this article whether I endorse home-made contact solution or not.  The final decision, of course, lies with you.

 

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