There are two ways to clean and store soft lenses: with a heater (a small electrical appliance) or with chemicals.

Advantages and disadvantages of each system depends on your priorities and habits.

The Heat Method

Convenience: So long as you have access to an electrical outlet, you're safe. Those who travel a lot may find it inconvenient.

Cost: Initial investment is more costly (heaters range from $20 to $40), but overall it is less expensive. Commercially prepared saline solutions cost $2 to $3 and last about two weeks; a homemade solution is considerably cheaper: A gallon of distilled water costs 83 to 99 cents per gallon and lasts for two to three months; salt tablets cost about $3.50 (for six months). For the hard-to-rouse who knock over shampoo bottles in the morning bathroom, measuring and mixing at 8 a.m. may be hard to handle.

Wearability: Chemical irritations or allergic reactions may occur with the cold-system, but area optometrists agree that everyone can use the heat method. Some doctors say heating bakes impurities into the surface of the lens and that it "burns out" the lens quicker.

Cold-Chemical Method

Convenience: Besides the solutions, the only other equipment needed is a small plastic case.

Cost: Two or more antibacterial solutions, ranging in price from $3.25 to $4.50 per bottle. One disinfects, the other stores the lenses.Need to be replaced about every two weeks.

Wearability: Redness or itching from chemicals may occur in some patients, in which case the doctor usually switches to the heat method. Some doctors say the lenses last longer on the cold system