Since the 1990’s contact lens cleaning regimens have been dominated by the use of multipurpose solutions (MPS). Their ease of use, as well as effectiveness quickly vaulted them to the number one form of contact lens cleaning within a few years. This meant no more weekly disinfection treatments, as well as no more sticking-your-contacts-in-the-electric-socket! All seemed perfect. Until a few years ago.
About 2 years ago, I started noting a sharp increase in the number of patients complaining about increased dryness, irritation, and decreased contact lens wearing time. Often times, I tried changing the contact lens brand – usually with no perceivable difference in comfort. I then started changing patients’ solutions to hydrogen peroxide based ones (such as Clearcare). Remarkably, within 2-3 weeks, 80% of the patients came back in with much-improved symptoms. As I did this more and more, a pattern started to develop. Namely, more and more patients seemed to do much better when switching from the multipurpose solutions to the hydrogen peroxide ones. Clearly, there must be something going on.
My best guess regarding why 70% of all my patients (both the Pembroke Pines one and the other in Coral Springs 24 miles away), probably has to do with an increase in patient sensitivity/toxicity to the preservatives in the newer MPS solutions. What many consumers don’t always realize is that their favorite brands of foods, cosmetics, medicines, and other items often undergo formula changes without the consumers being aware of it. My best guess as to why the contact lens MPS makers (as well as ALL eye drop companies) changed their preservative compositions is due to the outbreak of a fungal infection in one of the most popular MPS brands a couple of years ago. Once a company and their investors gets hit in the pocketbook, they start looking for solutions (no pun intended) – FAST! Their competitors usually start paying much closer attention too. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the MPS makers are all probably ramping up their preservatives hence making contact lens comfort decline.
If you find yourself getting excessive contact lens related dry eye, try switching to a preservative free cleaning solution (such as Clearcare). Remember to make sure that no other preservative contaminant should make contact with your eyes or contact lenses at all (make sure your artificial tear drops are preservative-free too).