How to Remove Protein Buildup on Contact Lenses

A contact lens case with someone putting solution on the contacts

Contact lenses are a great alternative to wearing glasses. However, because they sit directly on your eye, there is potential for discomfort if they are not cared for properly.

The first step to comfortable contacts is ensuring that you’re wearing the best lenses for your eyes by receiving a contact fitting eye exam. But once you have the right contact lenses, it’s up to you to care for them properly to maintain good eye health.

Removing the protein buildup from your contact lenses is an ongoing part of caring for the lenses. For example, if you’re prone to struggling with dry eye syndrome, failing to remove the protein buildup from your lenses can aggravate the symptoms.

What is a Protein Buildup on Contact Lenses?

One of the things that the tear film in your eye has is protein. So, as soon as you place the contact lenses on your eye, a protein buildup begins to form. This buildup accumulates on the surface of the lens, and it can contribute to an increase in eye irritation or dry eye symptoms.

Depending on how severe the buildup is, if you look closely at the lens, sometimes you can actually see a white or foggy film on the contact. 

Importance of Removing the Protein Buildup

If you don’t clean your contact  lenses as directed by your eye doctor, you run the risk of two main complications:

  • Blurry Vision: If the buildup becomes too severe, you’ll notice that your vision is not clear anymore, and in some cases, it may get blurry or fuzzy.
  • Discomfort: You’ll notice your comfort level go down as the proteins accumulate on your contact lenses. You likely won’t be able to wear the contacts as long in a day without discomfort, and they often won’t last as long as they should before you need to replace them.

How to Remove Protein Buildup on Contact Lenses

Proper (and regular) cleaning is the best way to get rid of protein buildup on your contact lenses. As long as you do this, you will unlikely struggle with a severe buildup that you even notice.

Here are a few of the ways that you can effectively remove protein buildup:

  • An enzymatic cleaner is an effective addition to your contact cleaning regimen. It doesn’t replace your daily cleaner, but using it once a week (or as directed) will help keep any protein buildup under control.
  • Using a multi-purpose solution every day and following the directions for proper cleaning will remove the daily buildup of protein.
  • Electrolysis and Ultrasonic cleaners are two other options that provide effective protein buildup removal. These machines can be quite pricey, so they aren’t for everyone. Suppose you’re consistently struggling with a protein buildup and don’t want to use daily contact lenses. In that case, your optometrist may recommend one of these cleaners.
A person using contact lens cleaning solution to clean their contacts

Preventing Protein Buildup

It’s almost impossible to prevent it entirely, but here are a few things that you can do that help minimize the protein buildup on your contact lenses:

  • Proper Cleaning: Keeping your lenses  cleaned with an approved cleaning solution is important. Along with proper cleaning, it’s essential to practice good hygiene when touching your contact lenses (or eyes in general).
  • Minimizing Environmental Factors: Spending a lot of time in dusty, windy, or air conditioned environments can cause your eyes to dry out. This increases the chances of particles getting stuck on your lenses and contributing to protein buildups.
  • Proper Lens Fitting: If you’re not wearing contact lenses that fit properly, your eyes will likely be constantly irritated. When your eyes are irritated, they produce an excess amount of tears. These tears contain protein that adds to the buildup on the lens.
  • Take Your Contact Lenses Out: If your lenses aren’t designed for continuous wear, it’s important that you take them out every day to clean and soak them in an approved solution.
  • Daily-Wear Lenses: Sometimes, a daily lens may be the best solution if a person consistently suffers from protein buildup on their contact lenses. You never have to worry about any buildup because you’re using a new lens each day.
  • Using Eye Drops: If your eye is constantly dry, you’ll have excessive tear production. These tears add to how much protein is contacting your lenses. If you supplement with a lubricating eye drop, it reduces the amount of tears your eye produces. 

Finding Out More About Protein Buildup on Your Contact Lenses

If you consistently have an excessive amount of protein buildup on your contact lenses, there may be an underlying cause. So, it would be good to book an appointment or at least contact an optometrist to ask some questions.

Contact the office today, and our helpful staff at Westmount Optometrists is happy to answer any questions you have or book you in for an eye examination to ensure your eyes are healthy and you have the correct contact lenses.

Written by Dr. David White

More Articles by Dr. David White