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Eye care warning: hazard of salt.

Eye Care Warning: Hazard of Salt

The FDA has sent a safety alert letter to approximately 50,000 eye care professionals, asking them to warn their patients about the hazards of improperly using homemade saline solutions in caring for contact lenses. The solutions, generally prepared by dissolving salt tablets or capsules in distilled water, are not sterile and may be contaminated with harmful microorganisms that can cause infections. In some severe cases this has even led to blindness.

Homemade saline solutions can safely be used before or during the heat disinfection of contact lenses because the high temperatures are sufficient to kill any contaminating microorganism. But if a contaminated solution is used after disinfection (as a rinse or wetting agent or eye drops), or if it is used with chemical disinfection of the lenses, the microorganisms can enter the eye and cause serious infections. (Although chemical disinfection of contact lenses is effective in destroying the various types of microorganisms that cause most eye infections, it may not be completely effective in eliminating a rare type called Acanthamoeba, which can cause particularly severe eye damage.)

Contact lens wearers who want to use a rinse or wetting agent or eye drops after disinfecting their lenses must purchase a preserved or non-preserved sterile saline solution.

If homemade saline solution is used, the chance of contamination can be reduced (but not eliminated) by preparing the solution with distilled (not tap) water and discarding it after use, and by sterilizing the solution bottle in rapidly boiling water for 10 minutes at least once a week.

Whether or not homemade solutions are used, all contact lens wearers can help reduce the risk by: . washing their hands before handling the lenses; . disinfecting the lenses each time they are removed; . cleaning and air-drying the lens case between uses.
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Title Annotation:safety precautions for contact lens wearers
Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Mar 22, 1989
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