New saline shopper?
So... you have scleral lenses, and you need to buy saline regularly.
Here are some handy need-to-knows for immediate use as well as tips for future planning:
WHAT to buy
First question: Is it truly preservative free?
If it’s not on this list, it’s not preservative free!
- Purilens Plus
- Sodium chloride solution 0.9% for inhalation, e.g. Addipak, Modudose, or Mylan brands (use in the eye is strictly off-label, so make sure your doctor approves it for you)
Second question: Has your lens provider cleared your choice?
Don’t forget to involve your eye doctor with any change of solutions! Scleral lenses are different from all other contacts and require more attention to these details.
What NOT to buy:
Do not buy “Sensitive Eyes” types of salines to fill your lenses.
“Sensitive Eyes” does not mean preservative free - it usually just means thimerosal. It is important that your scleral lenses not be filled with something containing preservatives.
Incidentally, your pharmacist may not be the right person to answer your questions. Again, talk to your eye doctor.
WHERE to buy:
If you know what your prioritiies are, and learn what the options are, that makes saline shopping an awful lot easier!
I can think of four different ways to determine where to buy saline:
Option 1: Shop based on convenience
Be prepared to pay extra, but convenience is important to many of us.
PF salines are not solid in most drugstores, so local options are limited to the following:
- Your eye doctor. If your eye doctor stocks the PF saline you use, great.
- (Purilens Plus only) Bed, Bath & Beyond or other stores retailing Purilens Plus
Another type of convenience, though, is:
- Online subscription services: The convenience of having saline just show up when you need it is compelling. We offer this at dryeyeshop.com, and it’s also available of course on Amazon and quite likely other online resellers.
Option 2: Shop based on cost
If you need to keep your costs as low as possible, I recommend:
Buy direct from the manufacturer, e.g. Purilens, Menicon, Bausch & Lomb.
Buy on Amazon, but… be careful! There are hazards!
- DON'T assume that just because it’s on Amazon, it’s cheaper! I've seen crazy prices there.
- DO look for the manufacturer's name as vendor.
- WATCH OUT for short expirations. When it's cheap, it's often because it's short-dated.
- WATCH OUT for repackaged products. Don't take risks with your eyes.
Consider shipping costs above all! Liquids are heavy. Some quick tips:
- Look for pricing transparency. If shipping is included, you don’t know what you’re paying for what.
- Compare quantities carefully! The cost to ship one box of Lacripure might be $11 - but the cost to ship two might be $12!
- Larger quantities, less frequently, is almost always a better deal if you can afford it.
Option 3: Shop based on ethics
Company ethics as well as the desire to support small businesses are increasingly factoring into many people’s shopping choices today, which is wonderful!
So here is a bit of back story that might help inform your product choices and your choice of where to purchase them.
The Lifestyle Company (a/k/a makers of Purilens Plus) were an absolute lifesaver to all of us advanced corneal disease patients back in 2015-2016 during a prolonged and very painful shortage of preservative free salines due. The length and difficulty of this crisis came about as a result of Alcon’s reprehensibly poor management of the discontinuation of Unisol 4, with no other pharmaceutical apparently willing or able or motivated to step into the gap quickly, leaving many patients with severe medical conditions marooned. When the pharmas let us all down, The Lifestyle Company stepped up, scaled up about as rapidly as humanly possible, took risks, and made it possible to ensure that those of us who have to have buffered preservative free saline could get it. They have also done their best to get their product into some local stores, and they’re been responsive to everyone’s requests for a smaller size bottle (2oz size launching imminently). This is what small businesses do and they deserve our support.
Menicon (a/k/a makers of LacriPure, and also the popular Unique pH cleaning & disinfection solutions, as well as, of course, contact lenses) have played an important role both in the vacancies left by Unisol 4 and in more broadly serving the very, very rapidly growing market of scleral lens users. Menicon’s LacriPure is the only unbuffered preservative free saline that is actually labeled for use with contacts (as opposed to respiratory therapy!) It was high time someone put a product on the market specifically for us scleral lens patients, and they did it. Proper labeling is an important reason why so many optometrists are recommending it, despite the slightly higher cost.
Option 4: Shop based on service
I’ve always hated marketing, and especially the idea of tooting my own horn.
But… for once… I’m going to pull out the stops and suggest that there is reason to believe The Dry Eye Shop has a monopoly on top quality service in this particular sector. Here are some examples of what we strive to consistently offer everyone:
- Full service shop: Reach us by phone, fax, text, email, chat, or FB messenger.
- Exhaustive, detailed, accurate and helpful information about ALL the PF saline options (well, and about everything else we sell too), including lots of information you probably won’t find anywhere else.
- Subscribable email updates about any product shortages or backorders, along with suggested alternatives wherever possible.
- Subscriptions (recurring automatic shipments) which you can tweak at any time easily either yourself or letting us know.
- Happily helping you at any time with anything we can that is related to dry eye or scleral lenses, whether by sharing what we know or sending you back to your doctor armed with the right questions.
- We delight in helping in emergencies, such as finding you someplace local to get a lens plunger when you've lost your last one, or getting a last-minute overnight shipment ready even while UPS are walking in the door.
- Anxious after hours? While we have official business hours, we also monitor and respond to urgent messages after hours.
- A complete support system for scleral lens users, including online support groups and a mailing list covering almost every sort of scleral lens topic you could possibly want to hear about.
Oh, and by the way, you don’t need to be a customer to access our services. If we can help, call on us - no matter where you choose to shop. And don't forget to mention us to your doctor.