Contact Lens Wearing Time and Disposal
As a part of your annual eye exam, your eye doctor will be asking you lifestyle questions to help determine the right vision solution for you. With contact lenses, two key components are how long you will be wearing your contact lenses, and how often you will need to discard an old pair and replace with a new pair.
There are two types of contact lenses classified by wearing time:
- Daily wear contacts — Lenses that must be removed nightly.
- Extended wear contacts — Lenses that can be worn overnight.
“Continuous wear” is a term that’s sometimes used to describe 30 consecutive nights of lens wear — the maximum wearing time approved by the FDA for certain brands of extended wear lenses.
Disposal Intervals for Contact Lenses
Even with proper care, contact lenses (especially soft contacts) should be replaced frequently to prevent the build-up of lens deposits and contamination that increase the risk of eye infections.
Soft lenses have these general classifications, based on how frequently they should be discarded:
- Daily disposable — Discard after a single day of wear
- Disposable (used for daytime wear) — Discard after two weeks
- Disposable (used for overnight wear) — Discard after one week
- Continuous wear (used for 30-day wear) — Discard monthly
- Planned replacement — Discard monthly or less frequently
Gas permeable contact lenses are more resistant to lens deposits and do not need to be discarded as frequently as soft lenses. Often, GP lenses can last a year or longer before they need to be replaced.