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How Long Do Contact Lenses Last?

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Contact lenses provide practical vision correction and a refreshing break from wearing glasses. But how long do they last? 

A contact lens’s lifespan depends on the lens type and the expiry date. During a contact lens exam and fitting, your eye doctor can help you find the right contact lenses for your lifestyle, eye health, and vision needs. 

What Are Contact Lenses?

Contact lenses are small medical devices made of thin, clear material that sits on the surface of your eye. They correct refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. 

They also offer benefits over glasses, providing a more natural field of view and better peripheral vision. They are also great for active individuals—they don’t fall off or fog up during physical activities.

Different Types of Contact Lenses & Their Durability

Contact lenses come in various types, each with unique functionalities and different wear schedules. 

Daily Disposable Contact Lenses

Daily disposable lenses combine convenience and comfort by offering single-day use and improved hygiene compared to other lens types. With their disposable nature, there’s no fuss or increased risk of potential problems, as seen with extended-wear contact lenses. 

Since they’re only made for one day of use, they break down quickly and won’t be comfortable if worn again.

Weekly & Bi-Weekly Disposable Contact Lenses

Weekly and bi-weekly disposable contact lenses can be worn for up to 1–2 weeks before being discarded. Remember to take them out at the end of the day, clean them well, and store them properly. These lenses are more durable than daily disposables, but they’ll still break down over time, becoming more uncomfortable if worn after 2 weeks.

Extended-Wear Contact Lenses

Extended-wear contact lenses are designed to be worn continuously for a month. However, they require diligent cleaning and proper maintenance since you wear them daily and at night without removing them. Even though they’re designed to be worn overnight, wearing them while you sleep can increase your risk of eye infections

Extended-wear contacts are designed for continuous wear, typically up to 7 days without removal. While they are more durable than daily disposables, they still break down over time due to their extended usage period.

Factors Affecting Contact Lens Lifespan

The longevity and durability of your contact lenses depend on multiple factors, from the material they are made of to how diligently you practice good eye healthcare.

Lens Material

The material composition of lenses has a direct bearing on their lifespan. Some materials are more durable. Rigid-gas permeable contact lenses last longer than soft contacts, won’t warp or deteriorate, and are less likely to absorb foreign material. Soft contact lenses are less durable and more porous and will need to be replaced more often.

Care & Maintenance

Cleaning and maintaining your contacts can significantly impact their lifespan. Proper care helps keep the lenses in good condition, ensuring they remain comfortable and safe to wear. By following the recommended cleaning routine, you can extend the life of your contacts and maintain clear, healthy vision.

Environmental Conditions

Even the environment around you plays a part. Dust, smoke, and allergens can cling to your lenses, leading to discomfort and reducing their usable lifespan. Similarly, changing weather can affect lens hydration and comfort.

Do Contact Lenses Expire?

Yes, contact lenses have expiry dates, and so does your lens prescription.

Over time, the materials in the lenses can degrade, affecting their comfort and performance. Expired lenses can also harbor bacteria that can lead to eye infections. 

Contact lens prescriptions also expire, usually between 1 and 2 years after your last eye exam and contact lens fitting. While your vision might seem stable, it can change subtly over time. Regular eye exams ensure your prescription stays accurate, prevent potential irritation, and keep you up-to-date on the latest advancements.

How Often Should You Get a New Pair of Contact Lenses?

Every contact lens has a recommended replacement schedule, but some signs that can indicate it’s time to replace your contact lenses include:

  • Itching
  • Irritation
  • Dry eyes
  • Burning sensation
  • Excess tearing
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurred or distorted vision

You should always follow your eye doctors and the contact lens manufacturer’s guidelines on when to replace your contacts based on the type of lenses you wear. However, these average time frames and other factors can accelerate the need for replacement.

Regular visits and contact lens exams let your eye doctor monitor changes in your eyes and the fit of your contacts to determine when it’s time for a new pair.

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Tips for Prolonging Contact Lens Lifespan

While contacts expire, you can take precautions to maintain their condition and prevent adverse eye problems. This includes:

  • Reading the patient information provided with your contact lenses.
  • Following the cleaning and care instructions from your eye doctor and contact lens manufacturer.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly before handling your contact lenses.
  • Avoiding tap water or saliva to clean your contact lenses.
  • Consult your eye doctor before switching brands of contact lens solutions.
  • Wearing your contact lenses for the recommended amount of time only.
  • Removing lenses before going to bed.
  • Not sharing your contact lenses.
  • Keep artificial tears or glasses handy if you experience dry or irritated eyes.

Contact Lens Wear & Eye Health

Your contact lenses can provide clear, unobstructed vision. But, they can also impact your daily comfort and eye health, making it essential to understand their lifespan and know the signs of when they need replacing. If you experience changes to your vision or discomfort while wearing contact lenses, remove your contact lenses and book an appointment with Eye Rx in Chevy Chase and Washington, D.C.

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Written by Eye Rx

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