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Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical found in many products, including some contact lens cleaning solutions. It’s highly effective at breaking up and removing debris from lenses, including proteins and fatty deposits.

When used correctly, hydrogen peroxide solutions are safe for the eyes. However, if you don’t follow package instructions, hydrogen peroxide can cause irritation, redness, and complications such as temporary corneal damage.

If you get hydrogen peroxide in your eyes, they will probably sting, burn, and hurt. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Immediately flush your eyes with a sterile saline solution. If you don’t have a saline solution on hand, water or artificial tear drops will suffice.
  2. Call your doctor, and make an appointment to have your eyes checked.
  3. Take a deep breath. The hydrogen peroxide used in contact lens solutions is low strength. It may make your eyes feel uncomfortable, but it won’t cause permanent damage to your eyes or vision if treated.

Hydrogen peroxide should never be placed directly into your eyes or onto contact lenses.

If it does get into your eyes, you may experience these symptoms:

  • redness
  • stinging
  • burning
  • pain
  • tearing
  • feeling like a foreign object is in your eye
  • blurry vision

Complications affecting the cornea can also occur. These include corneal abrasions (scratches) and corneal ulcers.

These complications are temporary and resolve once treated by a doctor. If left untreated, they can lead to scarring and vision changes, including blindness.

Hydrogen peroxide solutions usually don’t contain ingredients like preservatives. This makes them a good choice for people who are allergic or sensitive to some of the substances found in multipurpose contact lens solutions.

It’s important to follow directions exactly as given for any brand you use. The directions will include a neutralization step that turns hydrogen peroxide into safe saline.

In general, these are the steps you can expect:

  1. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly.
  2. Place your contact lenses into the lens case that comes with your solution. It will contain holders for your left and right lens. It will also contain a platinum disk neutralizer that turns hydrogen peroxide into saline.
  3. Don’t substitute any other type of lens case.
  4. Rinse each lens as directed.
  5. Fill up the lens case with contact lens solution, being careful not to overfill.
  6. Close the lens case.
  7. Keep the lens case in an upright position. Don’t open, shake, or invert it.
  8. Let your lenses soak undisturbed for at least 6 hours.
  9. Remove your lenses. They’re now ready to wear.
  10. Discard the remaining solution.
  11. Rinse the lens case with unpreserved, sterile saline. Don’t use water. Allow lenses to air dry.

Hydrogen peroxide 3 percent is an ingredient found in some contact lens solutions.

It’s important to follow package directions exactly as given when using hydrogen peroxide solutions. The directions will include a neutralization step that turns hydrogen peroxide into saline.

Hydrogen peroxide shouldn’t be placed directly into the eyes. If you do get it in your eyes, flush them out immediately with a sterile saline solution or water.

After flushing hydrogen peroxide from your eye, call your doctor to assess the condition of your eyes, and to determine if additional treatment is needed.