As usual, I'm a little late to the party. Crystal had a post about saving on buying contacts and the comments were really good too. I have been wanting to write a post about saving $ when you wear contacts - how you use solution, etc. I started wearing contacts when I was sixteen. I took a hiatus from them (glasses seemed so much easier) for about 2 years (age 19-20) but have been wearing contacts almost all of the time for the last few years.
At first I used saline solution, cleaning solution, and weekly enzyme tablets (these were not disposable lenses!). Then enzyme drops came out so the weekly tablets were replaced with a daily drop into the case. Probably five years ago, the one-step solution came out. I tried the Opti-Free Express (because I had been using their solutions and enzyme drops) but it irritated my eyes so I went back to the old way. A couple of years ago, my eye doctor convinced me to try Aquify and I started using the one-step solution. This seemed kind of expensive to me so I figured out how to make it cheaper. I bought basic saline solution (Wal-Mart generic kind) and put that on my fingers to remove my contacts and to "wet" my fingers when rinsing with the all-in-one solution. (Fill your contact case with the all-in-one.) In the morning, I just dip my finger in the case to wet it then pull out the contact. I've found no rinsing is needed AND it hurts my eyes to rinse with the saline solution (if it is truly needed to rinse then the stinging goes away after a minute or two of blinking). Recently, there was a freebie for a sample of Opti-Free Replinish and I found that it worked for me. With coupons and sales, I was able to get 2 bottles of the Opti-Free Replinish cheaper than the Aquify. I have also found that telling my eye care place I need some sample bottles to travel with is a good way to get some for free. :)
For the last 2 years, I've been using two-week disposable contacts that have a better oxygen transfer (or something like that) so it's ok to sleep in them. I usually take them out every other night and keep wearing the contacts for one month. This also saves on solution and contact replacement. I tried the BEST ones before (I think you could keep them in even longer) but they irritated my eyes too badly. I'm wondering what my next appointment will bring though, my astigmatism was pretty bad last time and the doctor suggested trying the astigmatism contacts, anyone have those? Any difference in wear and care?
For other frugal hints, visit Crystal at Frugal Friday.