Where to find Clear Care Around the World(Help Wanted!)
[Fair warning: this post will only interest you if you are picky about your contact solution and traveling in Asia! When I went searching for this information 6 months ago, there was nothing. Consider this post a highly specialized void-filling. ALSO, if you FIND it in your travels, please comment below and I will start adding your find to the list!]
UPDATED LIST OF CITIES BELOW!
Years ago I was turned on to the peroxide-based contact lens cleaner/solution called Clear Care; previously, I had never really considered the funky expensive solution that came with its own bizarro case. In fact, some day I’ll tell you the story about how I bought that solution out of desperation/ignorance/poor labeling, and I squirted hydrogen peroxide directly into both of my eyes, single-handedly scarring a friend’s psyche (it’s hard to verbally describe what’s going on when both of your eyeballs are suddenly on fire and your companion is wondering why you are screaming) and almost my own peepers. But this post is not about that. This post is about the Quest for the Holy Grail of Asia: peroxide-based contact care.
When BJ & I left home, we thought we were going to be on the road for at least 10 months. One 32 oz bottle lasts one month, and I have one backpack to my name; translation: I can’t bring a 10 bottle stash of my Clear Care with me. At first I just tried Googlin’ around to see if I would be able to find my magic juice overseas, but didn’t get any leads. I researched the distribution of Clear Care, but didn’t find anything that made me more comfortable. So, I set out with a few bottles, figuring I would either find some on the road, or I would alternate between regular contact solution (Renu is readily available most everywhere) and the magical peroxide one. (For those of you not on the Clear Care train yet, it makes my contacts feel fresher for longer; at the end of the month, it doesn’t feel like I’m watching the world through a dirty windshield). I had high hopes, though.
Montage time! (This next part is more fun if you imagine an India Jones-type map and my flying all over the globe in search of contact solution.) I didn’t search too hard in the north and south of India, as I knew that was a lost cause (although I didn’t scour Mumbai). Nepal, I barely tried, although I met some great pharmacists there. But Singapore… I figured it ANYWHERE would come through for me, it would be Singapore. Singapore–none, zero, zilch. A city of superlatives and world class attractions, but bupkis in the peroxide eyecare world. (UPDATE: I HAVE found it in Singapore, glory be!)
I figured I was done for, but I continued my search throughout Indonesia (Bali & Lombok) and Thailand (Bangkok & Chiang Mai). Chiang Mai, you’re practically an American city, how y’gonna do my contact solution needs like that? By now, 5 months later, I was down to my last bottle. We moved on to George Town, Penang (Malaysia) and it was there that I finished my last bottle. We happened to be in the KOMTAR complex/Pacific Marketplace and we passed a Guardian Pharmacy. I like to peruse local pharmacies anyways, and out of habit I looked for the eye care section. And there it was… a whole row of AO Sept Plus. Now, AO Sept is made by Ciba Vision, the same company that makes Clear Care. Apparently back in the day it used to take more steps/equipment to use AO Sept, but AO Sept Plus is basically the same exact thing as Clear Care. (Hey, more SKUs makes for more shelf space!)
I had found it, the first day I truly needed it. Dear AO Sept, I would have bought every single one of you had we not been making a visit to the U.S. next month.
So, what is the point of this blog post? Basically, it’s only directed to those of you who are traveling in Asia and are having concerns about the integrity of your corrective eyeball covers. Some of you might be rejoicing, some disappointed, and most of you just wishing you had 4 minutes of your life back. But I have my contact solution.
Readers have contributed GREAT information! Here is a list of reported Yays and Nays around Asia (and more). Please let me know if you find it somewhere not on this list!
Thailand (Boots pharmacy. UPDATE: I have looked in MANY Boots, Watsons, and optician around Bangkok, and NO ONE has anything close to AO Sept anymore. No spaces on the shelves, no indication of it returning.)
Chiang Mai (only in glasses / contact lens shops)
Taiwan (Watsons pharmacy)
Hanoi, Vietnam (Hanoi Medical University Hospital — Eye division)
New Zealand (only in glasses / contact lens shops)
Cairns, Australia (pharmacies)
Kuala Lumpur (UPDATE: it seems to be more difficult to find it in 2017 than it was in 2013; all the pharmacies I checked had a slot on the shelf for AO Sept but they were all empty. They do have a version where you can add a B-12 pill to the solution in order to neutralize the formula, but I have not tried this solution).
Still a No…
ALL of India
And as far as I can tell, none in Mexico (at least Central Mexico), Peru, Ecuador