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Can You Use Contact Solution as Eye Drops?

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A young woman pouring contact lens solution in a contact lens container.

If you wear contact lenses or suffer from dry eyes and irritation, you probably have a handy bottle of eye drops nearby. But what if you run out of eye drops?

Reaching for the contact lens solution is a no-no. Contact lens solution contains ingredients to disinfect your contact lenses; they are not eye drops used for moisturizing or treating eye issues. 

Visit your eye doctor if you experience dryness, irritation, or vision changes. An eye exam can diagnose the underlying cause and help determine the appropriate treatment for symptom relief. 

What Is Contact Lens Solution?

Contact lens solution is a liquid solution used to clean, disinfect, and store contact lenses. Contact lens solution contains ingredients such as saline, disinfectants, and lubricants, to maintain lens hygiene and help clean bacteria and other debris from the surface of contact lenses.

Before you start wearing contact lenses, your eye doctor will conduct a contact lens exam and fitting to determine the right contact for your eyes and vision. They will also provide instructions on caring for your lenses and specify which kind of contact lens solution to use. 

Types of Contact Lens Solutions

Contact lens care solutions clean your contact lenses before you put them in your eyes and after taking them out. Depending on the type of lenses you have, your eye doctor will recommend one of several types of contact lens care solutions

Multipurpose Solution

A multipurpose solution for contact lenses is an all-in-one solution for cleaning, rinsing, disinfecting, and storing contact lenses. This solution is the most used by soft contact lens wearers.

Hydrogen Peroxide-Based Solutions

Hydrogen peroxide-based solutions also clean, disinfect, and store contact lenses. You might use this type of solution if you have allergies to the ingredients in a multipurpose contact lens solution. 


A saline solution does not disinfect contact lenses. The saline solution is for rinsing contact lenses after cleaning and disinfecting them with another solution, such as a hydrogen peroxide-based solution.

Daily Cleaners

Daily cleaners are for cleaning but not disinfecting contact lenses. Daily cleaners only help loosen and remove deposits and debris from the contact lens. To disinfect your contact lenses, you will require a multipurpose or other solution to rinse the daily cleaner off and disinfect and store the contact lenses.

Enzymatic Protein Removers

Enzymatic protein removes and cleans material that your eyes deposit on the contact lenses over time. Your eye doctor may recommend this solution to remove buildup depending on the type of contact lenses you wear and the amount of deposit buildup. 

Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Care Systems

Contact lens solutions for rigid gas permeable or hard contact lenses differ from those used with soft contact lenses. You typically require several different solutions to wet, clean, and disinfect hard contact lenses. 

What Are Eye Drops?

Unlike contact lens solutions, eye drops are designed to help soothe, moisturize, and relieve redness, itching, and dryness in the eyes. Eye drops help with treating allergies, infections, or other eye issues. 

Types of Eye Drops

Eye drops come in several types, including prescription and non-prescription. Some eye drop solutions help lubricate the eye, while others contain medication to speed up the healing of an eye infection.

Antihistamine & Decongestant Eye Drops

Antihistamine and decongestant eye drops treat allergy symptoms such as itchiness, redness, swelling, and watery eyes. 

Lubricating Eye Drops

Lubricating eye drops or artificial tears help keep the eyes moist and comfortable in conditions such as dry eyes. These drops can provide dry eye symptom relief from stinging and burning sensations. 

Prescription Eye Drops

Prescription eye drops help treat inflammation and specific infections in the eye, such as pink eye or conjunctivitis.  

Why You Can’t Use Contact Solution as Eye Drops

While contact solutions and eye drops may seem similar, especially the saline based variants, they have completely different uses. You can’t use contact lens solution as eye drops.

Contact lens solution contains ingredients that clean and disinfect contact lenses and can damage your eyes and cause redness, burning, and stinging if used as eye drops. For example, putting hydrogen-peroxide contact solution directly in the eyes is extremely painful and dangerous. 

Even though you disinfect your contacts with this solution and then put the contacts in your eyes, a crucial step in the cleaning system involves neutralizing the hydrogen-peroxide solution into a saline solution. Moreover, contact lens solutions won’t relieve dry or red eyes, and don’t have the necessary lubricants to provide relief.

Close-up of a woman undergoing a slit-lamp exam.

Maintain Your Eye Health

Contact lens solution isn’t safe as a substitute for eye drops. Using contact solutions on your eyes could cause additional harm, such as irritation, redness, and burning.

It’s essential to choose products designed for their specific ocular use. If you are experiencing dry or itchy eyes or other eye-related concerns, book an appointment with Restore Vision Center to determine the cause and receive advice on what eye drops to use to maintain eye health.

Written by Tracy Eickhoff

Dr. Tracy Eickhoff grew up in Friendswood, Texas and graduated from Friendswood High School. She went on to attend Texas A&M University and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biomedical Science in 2004. From there she attended the University of Houston College Of Optometry where she received her Doctor of Optometry Degree in 2008. She is a member of The American Optometric Association, The Texas Optometric Association, and The Gold Key International Optometric Honor Society, The Ocular Nutrition Society, and has served as Adjunct Clinical Faculty at The University of Houston College of Optometry.

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