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Disposable Contact Lenses: How Long Can You Wear Them?

woman holding contact lens on her fingertip

According to the Vision Council of America, about three-fourths of people wear either glasses or contact lenses. Some people find contacts more comfortable than glasses because they give you a wider range of vision.

Those choosing to wear contacts have a large range to choose from. This includes hard contacts, which are not as prevalent as they once were, and soft contacts.

All contacts are technically disposable. But for ones marketed specifically as disposable contact lenses, you typically throw them away more often.

Most of the time, people throw them away once per day. These lenses are sometimes known as "daily contacts” or “daily disposables”. But you shouldn’t confuse these with daily wear contacts, which you wear every day and take off every night.

In this article, we'll discuss the benefits of daily disposable contacts.We will also cover how long you can wear disposable lenses without complications or harm to your eyes.

Why People Choose Daily Disposable Contacts

5 packets of disposable contact lenses

One of the most common reasons why people choose daily disposable contacts is that they're more comfortable. Any contact wearer knows that there's no feeling quite like putting in a fresh pair of lenses. With daily disposables, you get this every single day.

Some optometrists also feel that they're better for your eye health. The reason for this? Daily contacts don't give bacteria and germs the chance to build up. Each new pair of lenses is guaranteed to be sterile and free of any irritating deposits.

Are Daily Disposable Lenses More Expensive?

Daily disposables can be a little bit more expensive than regular daily contacts. However, the cost is often offset by the fact that you don't need to buy a case or cleaning supplies. Instead, you just pop in a new pair each day.

There may potentially be the added cost of contact solution and rewetting drops. You can use the solution to help put the contacts in and the drops to keep them moist throughout the day.

Wearing Daily Disposable Contacts

If you wear daily disposable contact lenses, you shouldn't wear them for more than one day. In this instance, one day is not the traditional 24 hours, but rather, your waking hours. Remember: these lenses are not designed for wearing while you sleep.

You can only wear your daily disposable contacts once, since their composition isn’t as resistant to bacteria and germs. Lenses designed for longer wear times can keep out harmful build-up that potentially causes problems.

In the worst case scenario of overwearing daily disposables, you could get a serious eye infection that could result in loss of vision.

Although some people may try to save money by wearing their daily disposable contacts for longer than one day, this isn't advisable. While you may be saving a couple of dollars now, you're putting your eyes at serious risk. In the long-run, you might have to pay significantly more for medical treatment.

How Long Can I Wear Non-Daily Disposable Lenses?

As stated above, all contact lenses are technically disposable. This means you can throw them away with your regular garbage when their time frame is up.

If you have contact lenses that are not disposed of daily, your optometrist will tell you how long you can wear them before you need to throw them away. In some cases, this can mean a couple of weeks. In others, you won’t have to chuck them out for a month.

Just remember to dispose of your lenses at the end of the time frame, even if you haven’t worn them continuously.

If you use non-daily disposable lenses, you'll need to follow your optometrist's instructions and take good care of them. This means you'll have to clean them as instructed, as well as ensure they’re stored properly. Failure to do so can result in nasty eye infections.

Can I Wear Disposable Lenses Overnight?

woman sleeping on side

While there are lenses designed for overnight use, disposable lenses are not one of them. You should avoid wearing disposable contacts overnight, as this can also cause problems with infections and dry eye.

You should either discard or store your disposable lenses before you go to sleep. If you cannot see without them, you should have a pair of glasses to wear as you wind down for the day.

Check the Expiration Date on Your Lenses

the words expires soon stamped in red ink

Checking the expiration date on your contact lenses is also extremely important. Some people may erroneously believe that their contacts stay fresh past the expiration date if they're in a sealed container. This is not the case.

The expiration date is how long the company can guarantee that the contacts are safe to wear. Beyond that date, the contact lenses or the container may become weak and let in bacteria and fungi.

Also, the solution may change pH levels and ruin your contacts. This is true no matter which type of lenses you decide to wear.

Attempting to "stretch out" the wear of your disposable contacts likely won't save you money in the long-run. All lenses in your possession have expiration dates. If you extend the wear of one pair, the other contacts you haven't used will likely go bad during that time anyway.

Then, you'll throw out lenses you could have used. It’s better for your eye health if you always adhere to the recommended wear time of your contacts.

Wearing Contact Lenses

happy woman holding paper with smiley face in front

If you're interested in wearing contact lenses, you should speak to your eye doctor today. Contact lenses have come a long way since they were first invented, and you'll find them easy to wear and care for nowadays.

Daily disposable contact lenses are so convenient that even your preteen or teenager can switch to them. They are safer than glasses when playing sports or participating in other physical activities.

To get started wearing contacts or switching brands, make an appointment with your optometrist to discuss your options. Don’t know what to say? Here are 8 useful questions you can ask when you go in!

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