Why You Should NEVER Use Expired Contact Solution
Because you use your contact lenses without being overseen by a medical professional, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates them as medical devices. This ensures that contacts are used safely and effectively (Medscape). One part of this regulation requires companies to include expiration dates on contact solution bottles.
What Does the Expiration Date Mean?
Companies determine expiration dates based on tests performed by the FDA. If a contact solution has been tested and approved as effective for 2 years, the expiration date with be no later than 2 years in the future. Being “effective” means that the solution will maintain a stable pH (acidity) and not “go bad” by becoming acidic or alkaline (basic) – just like how food or wine goes bad (fda.gov). Exposure to the sun or heat can also speed the breakdown of solution.
What’s Wrong with Expired Solution?
When contact solution “goes bad,” the chemicals that kill bacteria don’t function properly, allowing impurities to build up on the lenses. This can make wearing contacts extremely uncomfortable. You may feel guilty for throwing away a full bottle of solution, but do NOT be tempted to use solution that is expired just so it’s not wasted. Expired solution could be contaminated and lead to severe bacterial or fungal infections, vision loss or in extreme cases, even blindness. If you’re a person who buys in bulk, be sure you check expiration dates before you purchase or open a new solution bottle.
How Do I Know If There’s an Issue?
Expired solution can cause serious eye irritation. If you start to experience any issues with your contacts, keep these tips in mind from Andrea Thau, O.D., an associate clinical professor at the SUNY College of Optometry and spokesperson for the American Optometric Association.
- Eyes should “look good,” meaning they’re clear and white, NOT red and irritated.
- Eyes should “see good,” meaning you can see clearly. Any variation from your normal vision is cause for concern.
- Eyes should “feel good,” meaning there’s no discomfort or pain.
Another way to prevent irritation is to replace your contact lens case every 3-6 months. Remember to never top off the solution leftover from the night before when you store your contacts at night.
Ask the optometrist at your local America’s Best store about the best contact solution to use and proper contact lens care and storage.