Can You Substitute Water for Contact Solution?

When it comes to contact lenses, most wearers know the importance of using contact solution to clean and store their lenses. However, there may be situations where one forgets to bring their contact solution or runs out of it unexpectedly. In these scenarios, it is natural to wonder if water can be used as a substitute for contact solution.

Before diving into the answer to this question, it is essential to understand what contact solution is and how it works. Contact solution is a sterile, isotonic solution specifically designed to clean and disinfect contact lenses. It helps to remove debris, bacteria, and other impurities from the lenses, leaving them clean, clear, and comfortable to wear. Additionally, the solution contains lubricants that keep the lenses moist, preventing dryness and irritation.

What Happens When You Use Water Instead of Contact Solution?

Using water instead of contact solution can lead to several issues. Firstly, water does not contain the same disinfecting agents as contact solution, which means that bacteria and other microorganisms can easily thrive on the lenses. This can lead to eye infections, inflammation, and other serious eye conditions.

Secondly, water is not isotonic, which means that it has a different concentration of dissolved solids than the tears in your eyes. This can lead to the lenses absorbing water and swelling, causing discomfort, and potentially distorting your vision. Moreover, the water can also strip the natural lubricants from your lenses, leaving them dry and uncomfortable to wear.

In short, using water instead of contact solution can cause serious problems for your eyes and contact lenses. While it may seem like a quick fix or a temporary solution, it is important to always use contact solution to keep your lenses clean, safe, and comfortable.

What Are the Alternatives to Contact Solution?

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to clean your lenses but do not have your contact solution with you, there are a few alternatives you can consider.

Saline Solution

Saline solution is an excellent alternative to contact solution as it is isotonic, meaning it has the same concentration of dissolved solids as your tears. It is also sterile and free from any bacteria or contaminants that could harm your lenses or eyes. While saline solution does not have the same cleaning power as contact solution, it can be used to rinse and store your lenses temporarily.

Hydrogen Peroxide Solution

Hydrogen peroxide solution is a powerful disinfectant that can effectively remove bacteria, debris, and other impurities from your lenses. It works by breaking down the proteins and lipids in microorganisms, effectively killing them. However, hydrogen peroxide solution needs to be neutralized before use, as it can cause severe burning and stinging in your eyes if not rinsed off properly.

Eye Drops or Artificial Tears

Eye drops or artificial tears can help to lubricate your lenses and provide some comfort when your eyes feel dry or irritated. However, they are not a substitute for contact solution and should only be used temporarily.

How Often Should You Replace Your Contact Solution?

It is essential to replace your contact solution regularly to ensure that it remains effective and free from contaminants. Most contact solution manufacturers recommend replacing your solution every 30 days, even if there is still some left in the bottle. This is because bacteria and other impurities can build up over time, making the solution less effective at cleaning and disinfecting your lenses.


While it may be tempting to use water as a substitute for contact solution, it is not a recommended option. Water does not have the same disinfecting power or isotonic properties as contact solution, which can cause serious problems for your eyes and lenses. Instead, consider using alternatives such as saline solution, hydrogen peroxide solution, or eye drops, and always replace your contact solution regularly.


  • Can I use tap water to clean my contact lenses?
  • No, tap water is not sterile and can contain harmful microorganisms and chemicals that can damage your lenses and eyes. It is important to use only contact solution or other recommended alternatives.

  • What happens if I use expired contact solution?
  • Using expired contact solution can lead to serious eye infections, as the disinfecting agents in the solution may no longer be effective. It is important to replace your solution regularly and check the expiration date before use.

  • Can I use the same contact solution for both cleaning and storing my lenses?
  • It is recommended to use separate solutions for cleaning and storing your lenses, as the cleaning solution may not be suitable for long-term storage. Make sure to read the instructions carefully and follow the recommendations of the manufacturer.

  • Can I reuse contact solution?
  • No, contact solution is designed for one-time use only and should be discarded after each use. Reusing the solution can lead to contamination and other issues.


  • “Contact Lens Solutions.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 28 Jan. 2021,
  • “COVID-19 and Contact Lenses.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 Feb. 2021,
  • “Contact Lenses.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 28 Jan. 2021,

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