How Long Can I Wear My Contact Lenses?

Two-week disposables may be just that

Close-up of woman's eye
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Question: How Long Can I Wear My Contact Lenses?

My doctor fit me with two-week disposable contact lenses. Do I really have to throw the lenses away after two weeks of wearing them?


Yes. Many years ago, all contact lenses were yearly, conventional lenses that were meant to be worn for a year or longer. However, many complications arose because of tear composition, hygiene habits and certain environments people may live in.

Some people have more protein and other materials in their tears that attach onto the contact lens, allowing a place for bacteria and other toxic substances to grow. Even patients with good hygiene habits had problems with irritation as well as comfort. Patients often reported red, inflamed and irritated eyes.

Furthermore, wearing contact lenses comfortably was nearly impossible for patients with allergies. Lens disinfection systems to a good job of making sure the lenses have no bacterial growth but even the best system does not eliminate all the microscopic debris that can cause contact lens wear to be uncomfortable.

When disposable contact lenses came onto the market, the rate of complications dropped significantly. Wearing contact lenses became much easier and more comfortable. However, if two-week disposables are worn much over the recommended wearing time, the transmission of oxygen through the contact lens to the eye drops to unhealthy levels.

This increases the chance of developing inflammation and infection. Also, in simple terms, you are defeating the purpose of wearing a lens you can dispose of every two weeks. If you try to stretch out longer, you might as well allow your optometrist to fit you with a lens that is designed to be worn longer.

Contact lens manufacturers developed new methods to produce lenses in greater volume at a lower cost.  Because lens prices were lower, patients could afford to replace their lenses more often.

Doctors discovered that when the lens is disposed of in a more timely manner, serious complications become less and less. Daily disposables, contact lenses that are disposed of every day, are fast becoming the lens of choice for doctors and patients around the world. Many lens types are available for people who need astigmatism correction. They are also available in a multi-focal design for people who have developed presbyopia. Presbyopia is the condition that occurs after the age of forty which cause humans to loose their near focusing ability.

Millions of dollars go into research and development of contact lenses. Daily disposables also seem to be a much better choice for patients with dry eyes or ocular allergies. Plus, it represents the best in hygiene. In many countries, most patients wear daily disposable lenses. In the United States, more and more patients are wearing this type of lens. Listen closely to your doctor’s recommendations, as there are reasons behind all of them. Remember that contact lenses are medical devices.

Be sure to follow proper cleaning and wearing instructions to keep your eyes safe and healthy. Developing an infection or a severe contact lens related complication is simply not worth taking a chance trying to stretch out your contact lenses longer than what they are designed for.

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