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6 Signs You Need New Contacts (and Why Replacement Is So Important)

black signpost with various words on, sky and clouds background

A study by the Center for Contact Lens Research states that 40% of contact lens wearers use their lenses past their expiration dates. While some forget, others don't want to spend their money on a new pair. Still, the data shows that almost half of 1,654 adult users surveyed have this habit.

So what makes us so rebellious? Instead of following doctor’s orders, we wait until our lenses become problematic before replacing them. We probably think we are getting the most bang for our buck. Yet, in reality, we’re kind of playing a game of “Russian Roulette” with our health.

Below, we explore why it's important to switch to new contacts on time. Also, we give you six signs that will tell you when it’s time for a new pair of contact lenses.

Why It's Important to Replace Your Contacts

Replacing contacts often is not about getting consumers to buy more. It's a matter of hygiene and health. It's easy to think that a saline rinse and solution soak will clean your contacts every time. But, the truth is, it doesn't quite work that way. Not in the long-run, anyway.

Depending on your type of contact lens prescription, your lenses may last a day, a few weeks, months, or even a year. After these time frames, they start to wear out. You see, contact lenses consist of a form of plastic called hydrogel. Although you can't see them, small holes in these pieces of plastic allow your eyes to "breathe" while you wear them.

This is great for preventing problems such as dry eye. But overuse can cause these small pores in the lenses to clog because your eyes contain protein, lipids, and bacteria. Beyond that, your eyes collect various debris from exposure, like dirt and dust.

Over time, all of these things collect on your contact lenses, even when you soak them in saline on a regular basis. This clog prevents your eyes from being able to breathe beneath your contact lenses.

Why Do Eyes Need to Breathe?

blue sky and clouds with just breathe written in white smoke

When your eyes can't breathe beneath lenses, you risk dry eye or infection. If left untreated, either can turn into a corneal ulcer. Corneal ulcers are open sores on your eye's cornea that often grow within the middle of your eye. These ulcers are very painful and can cause scarring that will affect your vision.

The issues caused by corneal ulcers can also lead to permanent vision loss. You may even lose your eye itself if you don't receive proper treatment in a timely fashion. Conclusion: it's important to change your contacts as directed to protect your health.

6 Signs It's Time for New Contacts

dry eye syndrome infographic

How do you know your contact lenses need to be replaced? We'll tell you! Here are signs it's time for a new pair.

1. Your Lenses Have Expired

This one’s the most obvious one. Too many contact users tend to stock up on contact lenses and use them well beyond their expiration date. Don’t do it! Each contact lens lasts for a certain amount of time, whether daily, weekly, or monthly. These expiration dates are set for a reason. Wearing your lenses past their date can lead to damage that can impact your eye health.

2. Your Contacts Are Irritating You and Feel Uncomfortable

Contact lenses should never feel uncomfortable. If, after putting them in, you feel they're irritating your eyes in some way, then it may be time to toss them. Experiencing itchiness or irritation? Start by removing the lenses and inspecting them. If you see any damage to the lenses, such as scratches, stop using them.

If they seem fine, clean your contacts. They may have collected debris that is bothering your eyes. If cleaning them doesn’t fix the problem, they might have some damage you can’t see. You need to swap them out with a new pair.

3. Your Lenses Appear Cloudy

Should you put on your prescription lenses and they seem cloudy, take them out and give them a saline rinse. If you put them back in, but they haven't cleared up, it's time to toss them. Your lenses become cloudy due to a buildup of bacteria. If you continue to use them, you’re at risk for eye infections, dry eye, or even corneal ulcers.

4. Your Lenses Become Bent out of Shape

bent new contacts on the floor with water droplets

Scratches aren't the only way your contact lenses can become damaged. If you notice any bends and dents in the shape of your contacts, stop using them. Even if you think they work well enough, these misshapen contacts run a higher risk of harming your eyes. Bent contacts allow bacteria and other unwanted debris to pass through them.

5. Your Lenses Don't Protect Your Eyes Against UV Rays

Newer contacts are, in many ways, much better than their predecessors. New contacts provide UV protection for your eyes and use a new kind of material that breathes easier. If your contact lenses are not next-gen, don’t use them past their expiration date. Doing so could invite macular degeneration, corneal disease, or cataracts to occur.

6. You Need a New Prescription

old woman and young woman with blue eyes

But what if your contacts are brand new, spotless, but still seem to be causing problems? Headaches, frequent squinting, eye fatigue, or blurred vision, are all signs that you need a new prescription. Naturally, your vision gets worse over time. You may not notice it due to the subtle decline, but these symptoms will tell you something is not right. When this happens, you need to get a new prescription.

Discover and Save on Brand Name Lenses

One of the most common reasons people hold out on buying new contacts is that they want to save money. While that seems like a reasonable plan for your wallet, the results can be harmful to your eyes.

There are plenty of options available that will not break your bank. Check out the extensive list of brand name contact lenses that you can choose from to make your contacts experience easy and affordable. There is no reason to risk your eye health when a fresh new pair of contacts is always waiting for you.

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