A lot of my contact lens wearers admit to over wearing their contacts. They tell me that they just wear them until they start to feel irritating and then will replace or change their contact lenses. Would you wear the same pair of underwear over and over again without replacing it? I would hope not! Whether they are doing this to save money or to save the environment, I will tell you some reasons why it is so important to follow the replacement schedule of the specific brand of contact that you wear.
Contact Lens materials
First, we will talk about the material contacts are made out of. Most contacts are made from silicone hydrogel. This is a mixture of plastic and silicone. Now, this isn’t like the plastic that trash bags are made from. This is a type of plastic that absorbs water so that it stays moist. The added silicone allows more oxygen through the contact, which is healthier for the eye. Over time, protein and bacteria can deposit on the lens which allows less oxygen to the eye. This increases the risk of discomfort, infection, inflammation, and new blood vessel growth. These things can lead to permanent damage to the eye or vision loss.
How do you know how often you should be replacing the contacts? Well, your doctor will tell you, but there are really only 3 options
Single Use Contact Lenses
Daily disposable: These are my favorite! You have a fresh pair each day. You don’t have to store it in solution at night, you simply throw it away and open a new one in the morning. These are great for dry eye or for patients who are more low maintenance.
Bi-Weekly Contact Lenses
2-week disposable: These need to be soaked overnight in solution and then replaced 2 weeks after first use.
Monthly Contact Lenses
Monthly disposable: Again, these need to be soaked overnight in solution and then replaced 1 month after first use.
Notice that I said that these need to be replaced 2 weeks or 1 month after first use. Even if you do not wear your contacts every day for the full month, you still need to replace it on time.
You may say “But Dr. Thirion, I have worn contacts for 20 years and always sleep in them and wear them way past my replacement date and I have NEVER had an issue!” Well, I am very glad, but eventually this will catch up to you. Eventually you will end up with a corneal ulcer where bacteria take a bite out of the front of your eye. These are SO painful, and you have to be on pretty expensive eye drops every hour around the clock. It is no joke! This could leave you with a scar that will impact your vision forever. I beg you to please take this seriously and take care of your eyes, you only have two! That is why you should replace my contacts accordingly. So, this is why we want you to change contact lenses regularly.