Rub vs. No Rub – How Do We Properly Use Contact Lens Solution?

It wasn’t that long ago that manufacturers were claiming that their solutions were effective enough that they did not require rubbing.  Whether this was a marketing claim for convenience, or it was an attempt for the contact lens user to go through their supply quicker, this was a habit clearly embraced by many contact lens wearers.

As we have seen recently, the tone of the “manufacturer” has changed. Study after study has shown that just 5-20 seconds of rubbing the contact lens goes a long way in removing deposits, microorganisms and reducing contact lens related complications.

So how important is it for our patients to rub their contact lenses?  In 2009, a study done at the School of Optometry at Hong Kong Polytechnic University looked to quantify the effectiveness of cleaning with and without rubbing soft contact lenses1.  What the study did was take 300 new bi-weekly disposable contact lenses (Material : Ocufilcon D) and artificially placed several types of deposits on the surface of the lens.  The lenses were then divided into three different groups:

  • Rubbing (R)
  • No-Rub following the manufacturer’s instruction on duration of rinsing (NR1)
  • No-Rub with a shorter duration of rinsing (NR2)

Using saline and commercially available multipurpose solutions, the lenses were “cleaned”.  Cleaning effectiveness was assessed by the amount of deposits remaining via slit lamp evaluation.

Once the masked data was collected, it was clear that lenses cleaned by the R method were significantly cleaner than by those within the NR1 and NR2 groups.  Using the parameters defined within this study, it was clear that not rubbing soft lenses during cleaning is an ineffective method of removing contact lens deposits.

Happy Prescribing!

Jason E. Compton OD FAAO

  1. Cho P1, Cheng SY, Chan WY, Yip WK. Soft contact lens cleaning: rub or no-rub? Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2009 Jan;29(1):49-57.
[Jun 17, 2014]
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  • Dr. Richard Rebuck, OD

    While I never had any hard data to confirm my suspicions that rubbing would clean the lenses better than rinsing, I’ve told my patients for years that they should rub their lenses before soaking in new CL soln every day. To promote my point, I tell them rinsing would be the equivalent of just using mouthwash without brushing your teeth first and which is more important – your eyes or your teeth? You can get functioning replacement teeth, but the same isn’t the case with your eyes.

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