To rub or not to rub? - effective rigid contact lens cleaning

Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2020 Jan;40(1):17-23. doi: 10.1111/opo.12655. Epub 2019 Nov 21.


Purpose: To compare the efficacy of cleaning of rigid contact lenses using two care solutions with and without rubbing.

Methods: A masked randomised trial was conducted. The cleaning efficacy of two solutions recommended for rigid contact lenses, a one-step hydrogen peroxide solution (HP) and a povidone iodine-based solution (PI), were evaluated on 64 unworn orthokeratology (ortho-k) lenses subsequent to cleaning with rubbing (R) with a surfactant cleaner or without rubbing (NR). Either mascara or hand cream was applied as a contaminant to the lenses to simulate stubborn and loosely bounded deposits, respectively. For each type of deposit, the lenses were randomly assigned to four cleaning treatments: R with HP, NR with HP, R with PI, and NR with PI (n = 8 for each group). Each lens surface was assessed on site by a masked examiner under a low-magnification slit-lamp and with photo-documentation. Lenses were graded according to the deposit coverage area using a pre-set five-point scale [0 (<20% coverage) - 4 (>80% coverage)].

Results: For stubborn deposits (mascara), NR failed to remove deposits from 94% of lenses, whilst R removed more than 80% of deposits from 63% of the lenses. For oily deposits, 25% of NR lenses had >80% coverage, whilst only one R lens had 60-80% coverage, with 19% having 40-60% coverage, and 38% with either 20-40% or <20%. Rubbing improved lens cleanliness for both types of deposits, but only reached statistical significance for the stubborn deposit group. There were no significant differences between the solutions.

Conclusion: Not Rubbing and using either HP or PI solutions, is not effective in removing stubborn deposits from ortho-k lenses. It is essential to rub lenses when cleaning rigid lenses to ensure optimal lens hygiene for ocular health, especially as rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses are intended to be reused for at least a year before replacement. Rubbing with a daily cleaner should be included in the instructions for use of the solutions tested for rigid lenses and practitioners should be encouraged to emphasise the importance of rubbing in lens care.

Keywords: lens care; ocular health; rigid gas permeable lens; rub and no-rub.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Contact Lens Solutions / pharmacology*
  • Contact Lenses, Hydrophilic*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology
  • Povidone-Iodine / pharmacology
  • Surface Properties


  • Contact Lens Solutions
  • Povidone-Iodine
  • Hydrogen Peroxide