Do you get an “ahh feeling” when your contacts come out after a long day? It might feel good, but that’s a sign you might be wearing your contacts too long. Millions of people around the world enjoy the convenience and freedom from glasses that contact lenses provide. Wearing contacts longer than they should be worn is one of the riskiest behaviors for wearers, but how long is too long? Let’s check out some frequently asked questions about contact lens wear.
How often am I supposed to replace old contact lenses with a new pair?
This depends on what type of lens your doctor prescribed for you. Most soft contact lenses fall into one of three categories: daily, biweekly, and monthly disposable. Wear times are determined by the manufacturer and as such, your contact lens box is the best place to understand your specific wear time. It is a common misconception that monthly lenses are to be worn, “for a month, or so…”, but the manufacturer actually recommends no more than a month of wear time.
Recommended maximum wear time for most daily lenses is 14 hours in 1 day.
Daily lenses are great options for people who don’t want to depend on contact lens solution. No need to carry around a huge bottle of solution everywhere you go. Also, if you’re sensitive to contact lens solution or have an allergy then dailies are the answer you’ve been looking for. At the end of the day, you can rest easy, knowing you have a fresh pair of contacts waiting for you in the morning.
Recommended maximum wear time for most bi-weekly lenses is 14 days.
Bi-weekly lenses offer a unique set of benefits for people seeking longer life from their contacts but still crave that new lenses feeling. You’ll still have to rely on contact lens solution to maintain your contacts every night, but bi-weekly lenses are designed to more comfortable on your eye than monthly lenses.
Recommended maximum wear time for monthly lenses is 30 days.
Monthly lenses are the one of oldest modalities of contact lenses and are some of the most popular. They are especially helpful for those looking to spend less on their contacts each year.
You should replace your old lenses with a new pair according to how long they were designed and approved to last. Your contacts won’t self-destruct or melt away in your eyes if you keep them in an extra day, but they will accumulate deposits and proteins. Over time, this reduces the amount of oxygen that gets through to your eyes. This can make them more prone to infections, blood vessel growth into the eye, and chronic inflammation and redness that can lead to vision loss and contact lens intolerance.
Your contacts won’t necessarily feel uncomfortable or cause blurred vision when it’s time to replace them. It’s easy to forget, so set an alarm on your phone or download a reminder app to help you remember.
How many hours per day can you safely wear contacts?
Most people can safely and comfortably wear contact lenses for 14 to 16 hours per day. It’s always best to try to remove them as soon as possible before you go to bed at night to give your eyes a chance to breathe without lenses in. Some people, especially those who suffer from chronic dry eye, can only wear their contacts for a few hours a day. If your contacts start to get uncomfortable, take them out earlier in the evening.
How many days in a row can you continuously wear contacts safely?
Sleeping in contact lenses (this is what “extended wear” means) significantly increases the risk of serious eye infections. You should avoid it whenever possible. Some contacts designed to transmit more oxygen to your eye have been FDA-approved to sleep in overnight. The risk of complications is still higher when you sleep in them versus removing them every night.
The maximum time that any lens has been approved to wear continuously is 30 days. You should never wear a lens longer than that. If you have to sleep in your lenses, most eye doctors will encourage you to take them out as often as possible, or at least once per week. Be sure you are wearing lenses approved for extended wear.
How long can you wear contact lenses the first time you wear them?
Wearing contacts for the first time can be an exciting experience, but it takes your eyes some time to get used to having them in. When you first wear contacts, follow the wearing schedule prescribed by your eye doctor. Never continue to wear them if they start to become uncomfortable or cause redness or blurred vision.
How long do contact lenses last in an unopened package?
All contacts will have an expiration date clearly printed on the packaging. A new lens will last about three years before it expires. You should never wear a lens that has expired.
How often should I change my contact lens solution?
Contact lens solution is often an overlooked aspect of contacts, but there are a couple of things every contact lens wearer should know. First, you should never leave a lens soaking in solution for more than a week. If your lenses have been soaking for more than a few days, replace your solution with a fresh amount the night before you plan to wear your contacts. On top of that, regularly changing your solution is key for optimal eye health. Monthly contact lens wearers should expect to use roughly 9 bottles of solution a year.
Maintaining a regular schedule of swapping out contact lens solution is vital for keeping your contacts in their best condition. It’s especially important for monthly contact lens wearers since your contacts can quickly begin to build up protein deposits as they near the end of their wear time. Keeping those lenses clear of any proteins or particles will guarantee happy, healthy peepers.
Another often overlooked aspect of contact lens care is your lens case. Did you know you should be replacing your lens case every three months? Don’t feel bad, most people didn’t know that either. That’s why we made this handy infographic for some more tips and tricks on how to best take care of your contact lens case.
What about colored contact lenses that you wear for cosmetics only?
Colored, costume, decorative, and cosmetic contacts have to follow all the same rules and regulations as those worn to correct vision disorders. Any contact lens that goes on your eye is a medical device and should be handled with caution to prevent eye infections that can lead to vision loss.
As a general rule, the more time you give your eyes to rest and breathe without contacts on, the healthier your eyes will be.
Top five tips for healthy contact lens wear:
1. Take your lenses out as early in the evening as possible
2. Avoid sleeping in contacts whenever possible. If you must sleep in them, be sure you are wearing a lens designed for overnight wear.
3. If your eyes are red, irritated, uncomfortable, light sensitive or your vision is blurred, take out your contacts immediately.
4. Don’t wear contact lenses longer than designed.
· A daily disposable lens should be thrown away every day.
· A biweekly disposable lens should be thrown away after 14 days.
· A monthly disposable lens should be thrown away after 30 days.
5. If you’re eyes are relieved when your contacts come out, they’ve been in too long.