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Fourteen years will have passed come April when I will have been a contact lenses owner and have never strayed from using any other type of contact lenses. When I first tried gas permeable lenses, they were a newer type on the market against the harder lens people with sight problems could try as they felt more pliable than the harder lens type and the option at the time was years away from the introduction of daily lenses or as they are known now, simply as "dailies."
Being short sighted however means that most of the time I wear glasses every day, from the moment I get up to the moment I go to sleep. But there are occasions when lenses are used instead of glasses, sometimes when I can be bothered to go through the trial of putting them in, special occasions and against just popping my glasses on my nose.
Over the years there have been some excellent solutions and some products that have come and gone; not least a lot of products I sampled from the U.S never to be seen again on shelves of my local pharmacy. Although raised on Total Care from the first time I wore gas permeable lenses, I have also used company products from Boots claiming to be the same as Total Care but the results have been short-lived due to stinging eyes from instant application and constant re-wetting to the eyes on the basis that the wetting all in one solution dried out faster than Total Care. Other solutions don't have a long shelf life either, but this product averages from 10 to 12 months before the best before date is up.
For those who don't know however, the Total Care product has only been changed in design but not colour of label. There has been a slight change of shape however to the bottles of Total Care since newer AMO branded bottles are now being sold and at a cost average between £5 and £6-97 this product isn't cheap - even back then it was never cheap! Although they are sold in boxes carrying the 120ml bottles, they are changed from the bottle you see on Dooyoo, no longer looking squat and tall, but rather a taller more cylindrical bottle which still has the same purple tainted background on the label, but a much more comfortable and tactile bottle to hold especially in use. Product details are very important but although they are written in white lettering, it is small lettering, which can be off putting for people, who ironically, may have problems reading the info. As with most solutions then, there is also a twist off top cap before the solution can be poured and a break seal plastic sheath which must be broken off before use (otherwise I don't think you'll be able to get into it!)
Whilst some may well feel this product info is unnecessary padding, let me point out that Total Care produce two types of solution; firstly the all in one formula and then a "Daily Cleaning," agent which must NEVER be used as a wetting liquid. AMO / Total Care however do very little to differentiate the packaging; the 3 in 1 formula carrying a blue waved stripe across the box, whilst the daily cleaning agent has a yellow waved stripe. Get it wrong and you could hurt yourself because the latest labelling on the bottles don't carry the stripes anymore and the details/wording is very small. The Daily Cleaning bottle however is smaller at 30ml and is usually cheaper to buy, so if you don't pay attention to the colour of the box, the size of box and enclosed bottle might sway you instead.
The Total Care All in One system however goes simply by its name and is suggested as per its content to do just what the consumer needs for an all in one product. Still don't get it? Well INSTEAD of having to buy two or three separate bottles, before you insert a contact lens, it generally has to be wet so it can be easily inserted into the eye. Then you have the joy of adding more solution if the eye is too dry. After the lenses have been taken out they have to be stored in a container and a separate cleaning lotion/liquid has to be poured in, in which the lenses can be individually cleaned. Sometimes after the cleaning solution has been poured out, another lotion has to be added to disinfect the lens. Therefore Total Care is an all in one product, doing three things IN ONE; namely Disinfecting, Wetting and Storing after use' and there's no need for additional bottles.
Generally disinfecting just involves submerging both lenses in this solution for a minimum of 6 hours. Although guidelines do suggest 6 hours, I have left them a lot longer and only removed the lens from the storer tube when and if I need to put them in.
Yet for such a long period of time when I have used rival products I have noticed a few similarities. Boots version, which is cheaper at around £4-97, has a similar formula complete with the same mauve purple coloured box on the shelves albeit carrying the Boots name and in conjunction with Total Care, both warn that lenses must never be washed in water. If they are, then they do spoil the solutions use and can result in inserting a lens that looks clean but feels gritty on the eye's surface. Yes its that old adage that "just because it looks clean," a contact lens is never really clean to the naked eye because of impurities left over by the cleaning solution.
Clear as water and as odourless, Total Care emerges with the latter liquid, not thick, not gloopy and watery to the touch.
In terms of comfort, the new versions of Total Care are somewhat different from what I have been used to over the last fourteen years. When the lenses were applied with old Total Care all in one solution I found the immediate contact to my eyes were always very cold and the product numbed up my eyes slightly before they settled down. I'd also sometimes end up with one red eye as a result. Re-wetting my eyes had to take place an hour after the lenses had been inserted and I always found I had to reach for more wetting solution to insert into the eye during the day as the lenses felt they were drying up.
Now however there is a complete revelation! Now there is no numbness although the coolness of the liquid depends very much on how you store it but this formula which is claimed to be for sensitive eyes seems to eradicate any stinging. I've never actually enjoyed the feeling of contact lenses in my eyes, even though I hate glasses in general, but this new improved formula seems to be able to hide the feeling of the lens on the eye and re-wetting doesn't occur so soon as a result. In this instance you get what you pay for, and the excellent all round properties of this solution somewhat outweigh the initial cost price.
One of the biggest drawbacks I face with this product however good it is, is finding the Total Care range. It has always been a problem to find in stores such as Boots or private pharmacies. It can however also be found at opticians, particular independent opticians who also usually carry an excellent starter kit which comprises of sodium dissolving tablets and the aforementioned Total Care solution bottle, but in a smaller more compact trial sized 100ml. There is also usually a tiny cylinder holder which comes with this kit and appears to be one of the better ways of storing the lenses compared to the separate flip up plastic pools you usually find with Hard lenses and permanent type cases. The cylinder is colour coded and marked with L and R so that you know which lens you can install before adding the solution.
For an all round solution for wearers of hard lenses & gas permeable lenses, I give this product a very good rating. Thanks to an improved formula there is no stinging and the wetting time factor lasts for a couple of hours (an hour only if you happen to be around smoky places). However it must be said that this solution is for standard contact lenses and not the funny types you can buy which show your eyes of in a different design such as cat's eyes etc. Tinted lenses can also be used with this product but only tinted lenses that have been prescribed rather than shop bought. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2008
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