Oh, the weather outside is frightful! If you are receiving packages on your doorstep, there is concern about leaving parcels out in the freezing temperatures. If you order contact lenses online, and their package is delivered and then left in the cold weather while you are away at work or school, you might arrive home to find them intact but cold. Can contact lenses freeze? What should you do if you find yourself with frozen contact lenses? If your lenses ice up and then unthaw, can this process alter the their shape or have an effect on their consistency? The answer has as much to do with what contact lenses are made of as what their surrounding environment looks like. In this blog post we try to answer these questions for our friends who live in cooler climates.
In The Package
Basic science can be of help in determining if soft contact lenses can freeze inside of their sealed, sterile packages. Soft contact lenses are packed in a saline solution. Since saline is mostly made of salt, the freezing point is lower than that of just regular H2O or water. The freezing point of salt water is -21 degrees Fahrenheit. Even if your contacts look to be frozen, the likelihood is that they are not. If your contact lenses arrived and were left outside in freezing cold weather, the risk of temperatures reaching -21 degrees Fahrenheit is pretty low. If your contact lenses seem frozen while still sealed in their package, simply allow them to warm up at room temperature before inserting them into your eye.
In Your Eye
Can contact lenses freeze if you wear them out in cold weather? Heading outside for a sleigh ride or to ring some doorbells for your favorite charity might require you to spend extended lengths of time outdoors. There is no need to worry. Cooler temperatures outside will not have an effect on your contact lenses while in your eye. Your lenses will remain the same temperature as that of your body. The only way a contact lens can freeze when being worn by a patient outdoors is if their own body temperature dwindles to below freezing. In addition, it is worth noting that the salt content in human tears also prevents contact lenses from freezing. Cold weather will not shrink, reduce or affect a contact lens in a patient’s eye.
Outside Eye Protection
When playing outside, make plans to protect your eyes and contact lenses if you are going to be exposed to cold, blowing wind and snow. Snowmobiling, downhill skiing and any activities that subject your eyes to cold breezes or snowy winds can dry out your eyes. If you do experience dry eyes, try an ultra-hydrating pair of lenses, like Acuvue Oasys or Air Optix Aqua, and apply eye drops to help to retain moisture.
Opting to wear your contact lenses when partaking in cold weather sports, like downhill skiing, has some advantages. Lenses allow individuals full peripheral vision. Contacts will not fog up or hinder vision in any way. This is key in being able to see other skiers or snowboarders who may come into your area. Being able to see out of your peripheral vision without obstruction from eyeglass frames may also prevent potential accidents on the slopes. Individuals who do a lot of skiing may even want to consider ordering prescription ski goggles. Of course, these same advantages apply to snowmobiles as well.
So there you have it. Don’t worry about your mail order contacts sitting outside in cold weather for even a day or two. As long as your contact lens packages are sealed and allowed to thaw out and come to room temperature, you don’t have to worry about them freezing. Manufactures label contact lens packages with warnings and ask that you store your contacts at room temperature. Adhere to this rule of thumb, but do not worry about cold weather effects. Unless you are planning a trip to the North Pole, where the temperatures might reach -21 degrees Fahrenheit, you can most likely forget about the possibility of frozen contact lenses.