Eye doctors who specialize in contact lenses are asked this question all the time. Understandably, patients want to watch the budgeting dollar, but in truth, there are differences in solutions and the decision to save a few pennies shouldn’t be taken lightly. This article should clear up some of the confusion about contact lens solutions.
Rub or No-Rub?
A few years ago, the major manufacturers of contact lens solutions came out with products that claimed “no rubbing formula”, implying that the just be being in contact with the solution was enough to leave you with clean contact lenses. Opinions may vary, but most contact lens specialists would agree that rubbing the contact lenses with your finger in the palm of your hand while using a cleaning solution will yield a cleaner contact lens. If you don’t rub the lens, the lens may be completely disinfected but the surface is not free of debris and deposits. It’s like saying your hands are clean after using hand sanitizer. Yes, they’re disinfected, but they’re not really clean. So, rub your lenses. Come on, it’s not that hard to do.
Generic versus Brand Solutions
The big players in contact lens solutions are Bausch & Lomb (Renu) and Alcon (Optifree and Clear Care). There are other manufacturers as well making excellent products, but these two have the market cornered at this point. And sitting right next to their bottles on the store shelf is that similar shaped generic version for a couple of dollars less. Tempting, isn’t it?
You might like the store brand in other products and the differences may be indistinguishable. And who doesn’t want to save a few bucks? But when it comes to contact solutions, there really are differences. The labels may have the same list of ingredients and the bottle may be the same shape. But beyond that, there are other differences that may cause problems for contact lens wearers.
Keep in mind, generic solutions are all about saving money. That’s true on the manufacturing side as well. As such, the company producing the store brand this month, may not be the one producing it the next month. There will be subtle difference in how the solutions are produced. Also, when compared the brand name product, there may be differences in pH, saline concentrations, and preservatives.
Quite often when patients are returning to their eye doctor with complaints about the comfort of their contact lenses, the culprit is the solution. Be sure to let your doctor know what solutions you’ve been using. Perhaps the cheaper store brand is working well for you, but it could just as well, be the source of your problems.