Contact lens question

I am going backpacking in a couple of weeks, and for various reasons, I want to be able to take my contact lenses. My question is, how can I get my hands clean enough to handle my lenses? I don’t want to stick any freaky mountain stream bacteria in my eye.

I was thinking of using rubbing alcohol. I cleaned my hands with it the other day and poked myself in the eye…seemed all right. Do you think that’s sufficient or is there a better way?

I am a bad contact lens wearer so you probably shouldn’t do what I would do: just take them out. I would rarely even wash my hands before doing so. If they are clean enough for me to eat with, they are clean enough to take out my lenses.

(Though, I got laser eye surgery so now I don’t have to worry about it. Woot!)

Sounds good to me, but then, I’m notorious for behavior that makes my ophthalmologist* turn white and mutter to herself.

*fuck. this. word. I think it’s just displaced rhythm as my most hated word to spell and the amount of ire I hold for that is incalculable.

I don’t recommend you just take them out and not clean them. I currently am on Lotemax because of a bacterial infection in my eye, caused by not cleaning them enough. And I DO - I wear them exactly two weeks, not a day longer, and clean them properly every day.

That’s really not good enough. Your stomach can handle a little bit of grit, but getting a single bit of grit caught between lens and eye can feel like you’ve just set your eye on fire. At least for me personally, I find that anything less than scrubbing my hands hard with soap, rinsing, and then immediately putting my lenses in will contaminate the lenses and increase the chances they’ll become too uncomfortable to wear.

For the OP, I’d advise just getting a really big bottle of lens cleaning solution, so that you can wash your hands liberally as well as the contacts. Someone may have a better, erm, solution, though.

Yes, pretty easy to do. I’ve done so for days on end. Wash your hands with clean water, and be a little careful and you should be fine.

Switch to an optometrist. Way easier to spell.

Thanks, y’all. I don’t usually worry too much about absolute sterility, but then there’s hardly ever any goat poop in our tap water.

If you’re concerned about the cleanliness of the water even with soap, you could carry a little bottle of rubbing alcohol with you and squirt some of that on your hands after washing them, then let the alcohol air dry, then rinse off whatever alcohol residue may be left on your hands with your contact lens solution.

This is what I’ve done when I’ve gone camping. You do not want to fuck with your eye health.

This might sound trivial, but I always use my pinky as the finger that stays in contact with the lens the longest - the one you balance it on to put it in the eye. My pinkies always seem to come into contact with a little less germy stuff than my other fingers. No idea if it does any good, but feels sensible.

Another suggestion is to try extended wear lenses. I got a free trial for a couple of rock festivals where I was camping and it worked just fine. Kept the lenses in the whole trip, over night as well. I’m now such a fan that I’ve switched to those lenses all the time.

I have started buying a box of the full week, no-take-out lenses for just that purpose. Although it’s not perfect, campfire smutsch makes them worthless after three days.

Yeah, I thought about that, but then I’d still want to bring my solution and regular lenses as a backup (my eyes are dry as hell). If I’m going to tote the weight, I might as well just stick with my usual. I think I’ll clean them as Ethilrist describes.

This might sound stupid, but can’t you just bring some saline to rinse your eyes a little in the morning and not take them out ? Most disposables can be worn for awhile in a row, right ?

I’d suggest either get some Night And Days that you can just wear for the week so you don’t have to deal with them (as often) or pick up a box of Dailies that you can toss out each day. I’m much more comfortable rooting around in my eyes to pluck my lenses out when my hands are dirty if it’s on a night I’m tossing them.

In a camping situation, I don’t think it’s a great idea to sleep in your lenses. I can’t, but even if I could I think I’d rather sleep without any lenses and have my glasses for night use.

I’m hoping and praying you are talking about lenses you don’t have to take out every day. You’re not planning to try to handle lenses that you can only wear for a day in a situation where you don’t have access to running water, are you?

The ones that are designed for it can be, the ones that aren’t have a bad habit of drying up and scratching your cornea when you try to take them out in the morning.

To a point, it probably depends on the specific lens and the specific person. I know plenty of people who sleep with their regular lens in AND I know one or two who came home after a night of drinking and passed out on the couch without taking them out and scratched an eye trying to get them out in the morning. Either way, in my personal experience, the ones that aren’t designed for it are really uncomfortable to leave in while sleeping. Even just for a quick nap.

No, I do take out my lenses every night. I don’t think my eyes would appreciate leaving them in!

This is your friggin’ EYESIGHT at stake here. What possible reason could you have for risking it by insisting on wearing contact lenses for a hiking trip?

I have horrible eyesight (last checked out at -13 in one eye and -17 in the other), my glasses are nasty looking, and even applying all technology they are still heavy, and slip down my nose when I sweat. Moreover, my visual correction with contacts is superior to what I can get with glasses.

With all of that, I would not dream of inserting and removing lenses repeatedly without access to a properly hygienic environment. I’d just suck it up - and if I wanted to look good in photos, I’d just whip of the glasses while the photographer snapped away, then put them back on.

How many days is this trip, anyway? If you are talking about removing/reinserting one time, and you very thoroughly scrub your hands with alcohol beforehand each time, I could see doing it. But if you are backpacking for a week or so, that is simply too many opportunities for eye infections and you’d have to carry an awful lot of alcohol to be sure you could properly sterilize your hands.

Regarding Bosstone’s idea of washing your hands with the lens liquid, it’s clever but I don’t think it’s sufficiently sanitary. One part of getting your lenses clean with solution is the SOAKING part - the assumption is not that all germs die within a second of contact, but that they succumb after a more lengthy exposure.