How Long Can You Wear Daily Contacts?
Did you know that nearly a million doctor’s visits a year are due to eye infections from contact lenses?
The largest danger in wearing contact lenses is not the devices themselves. The problem lies in user error by those who wear them. Contact lenses come with a long and detailed list of cautions and instructions.
The challenge is that people seem to want to push their luck. Considering vision is so precious, it's surprising people risk infections and blindness. Daily wear contact lenses are disposable and must be thrown away after the prescribed usage.
But what does this really mean? How long can you wear daily contacts? Can you safely put your lenses in before breakfast and then wear them through the night?
Curious? Keep reading on to find out more!
What Are Daily Wear Contacts?
There are two types of daily wear disposable contacts. People sometimes confuse them. Don't! They’re two different technologies, with two very different sets of risks.
Daily Disposable Contact Lenses
Daily disposable contacts are for single-day use only. They come in large quantity packages usually consisting of 30-180 lenses. As single-use lenses, they are specially designed. They have a low resistance to germs, bacteria and protein build-up.
These lenses are much thinner than other types of contact lenses. This usually means that they are much more comfortable. The material that makes these lenses oxygen permeable and comfortable has a drawback. These contacts are also susceptible to microorganisms and build-up.
Daily Wear Disposable Contacts
Daily wear contact lenses are worn every day for up to a month. These lenses need nightly cleaning and disinfection. They are comfortably worn for 8 or more hours at a time. But you should never wear these contacts overnight.
These daily wear lenses use a complex woven matrix bonded from layers of synthetic materials. The materials prevent the normal buildup of organic elements such as bacteria and other germs. The lenses are designed for regular cleaning and disinfection without them breaking down.
Why You Shouldn't Mess With Manufacturer's Instructions
Contact lenses are FDA-approved medical devices. Their frequent testing proves their efficacy and safety when used as directed. Please note: "when used as directed" is the key phrase here!
Staphylococci is a common bacteria found on the skin. This bacteria can lead to infections that create pus in the mucous membranes. It thrives in wet, warm places.
A study found that more than 45% of daily disposable lenses had staphylococci contamination after only a day's use. Imagine trying to wash and reuse that!
Never let your lenses come into contact with water of any type. This includes water used for bathing, showers and swimming. You can find dangerous acanthamoeba contamination even in safe drinking water.
These organisms cause no ill effects when consumed. But, they stick to contacts and cause corneal ulcers. You should always remove lenses before water exposure or wear waterproof goggles.
It's also true that saliva and contact lenses never belong together. Oral bacteria do not belong in your eyes. The only liquid touching your contacts should be lens solution, rewetting drops and other approved eye drops.
Daily disposables and daily wear contacts are generally packed in sterilized, fluid-filled containers. The fluid has a stamped expiration date. Be careful: past date fluid is likely contaminated with harmful germs. Never reuse the fluid in these containers- expired or not!
Daily Disposable or Daily Wear, Follow the Instructions!
Clean hands are a must. Always wash your hands and thoroughly dry them before putting in or removing lenses. Touching your eyes can introduce irritants and dangerous germs. If you wear makeup, apply eyeliner and mascara after your lenses are safely in your eyes.
Let’s pretend that your contact lenses are like drinking containers. If you wear hard contacts, those are your basic, reusable glasses. They are tough and last a long time with proper care. You can scrub at them, but eventually, they get scratched and brittle.
Daily wear contacts are your "red solo party cups" so to speak. Party cups can be rinsed and refilled several times before you discard them. While you can leave stuff in them overnight, you wouldn't want to. Your daily wear contacts are good for several uses. But you should note that these uses do not include overnight wear. You definitely should not use them past the two weeks or one month mark, as noted on the box.
Daily disposable contacts are your "paper dixie cups". Paper cups are for a single use and don't last more than a few hours. You can't wash them. Your daily disposable lenses are much the same. They become saturated with proteins in your eyes and must be discarded.
How Long Can You Wear Daily Contacts?
How severe is the noncompliance among lens wearers? Over 70% of contact wearers don't bother to insert or remove their lenses with clean hands. Research also shows that two-week disposable contacts are often used more than twice as long as intended.
Always check with your optometrist and the manufacturer for the maximum wear time. A good average wear time is between 8 to 16 hours. Your wear time will also depend on your own lens sensitivity and the weather patterns. You should always take out your contacts if your eyes become red and irritated.
Sleeping with contact lenses increases your risk of infection in the corneas. This occurs because your corneas are somewhat starved of oxygen when lenses are in place during sleep. This makes your corneas vulnerable to any germs.
Keratitis comes from a set of bacteria and microorganisms that affect the corneas. Your corneas do not self-replenish. If you overwear or reuse lenses, you significantly increase your risk of infection. Why risk your vision?
For Many Hours Before Irritation
Official studies indicate that contacts wearers don’t follow the recommended contacts’ usage and care schedule. The reasons tend to center on the inconvenience of contact lens care and the expense of getting new lenses.
If you are asking "How long can you wear daily contacts?" the answer is all day. Just follow your doctor's recommendations.
Daily disposable lenses and daily wear lenses are not interchangeable. They consist of different materials and are for different purposes. Never reuse daily disposable lenses!
If you have trouble with red, swollen or irritated eyes, remove your lenses. If you are unable to wear your lenses comfortably for a full day, contact your optometrist. They will have suggestions to help you prevent infections and improve your comfort.
For more information about keeping your eyes happy and healthy, keep reading our blog.