How Often Should I Change My Contact Lenses?

The short answer from an optometrist
contact on finger illustration

Q: Exactly how often should I be changing my contact lenses?

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A: Ignoring the replacement schedule of your contact lenses can cause serious problems. From minor irritation to permanent damage, it’s important to know the lifespan of your lenses and change them accordingly.

Most contacts in the market today are soft lenses, which range in duration for length of wear:  

  • Daily disposable. About 40 percent of all contact wearers today use daily disposables and that number is steadily growing. With dailies, you put in fresh lenses every single day, so there’s no need to remember to replace them. These lenses are thinner and lighter, making them much healthier for the eye. Dailies also eliminate the need for contact cases and solution because they go straight from your eye to the trash after each wear.  
  • One or two week disposable. These contacts have a longer wear period than dailies, but still need to be taken out and stored in fresh solution each night. Try setting an alarm on your phone so you don’t forget to replace them every one to two weeks.
  • Monthly disposable. These lenses need to be replaced every 30 days. Try changing your contacts on the first day of every month to make it easy to remember, or pick out a specific date each month. Store these contacts in fresh solution every night.
  • Overnight lenses. Certain lenses are approved to be slept in overnight. They have a replacement period ranging from one week up to 30 days. For certain people, especially firefighters or security personnel who are on call during the night, these lenses make sense.

Anytime you over wear or sleep in your contact lenses, you put your eyes at risk. These risks can be minor such as discomfort or red eye, or they can cause more serious concerns like corneal hypoxia that can lead to a corneal ulcer. This is a condition in which your contact lenses starve your eye of oxygen which can lead to a corneal infection and possible blindness.

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Even if you don’t wear your contacts every day, you still need to follow the replacement schedule. As soon as you take the lenses out of the sterile package, they start to degrade ― no matter how many times you do or don’t wear them.

The bottom line? When it comes to contact lenses, know your replacement schedule for your type of lenses and be adamant about following it. If you aren’t wearing dailies, use fresh contact solution every single night and replace your contact case every three months.

– Optometrist, Wes Immler, OD

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