Contact lenses are wonderful conveniences that have truly revolutionized the lives of many. The newest generation of lenses is made from the most breathable, comfortable, and safe materials that the Optometric profession has ever seen.
Because of breakthroughs in this technology, wearers may suddenly realize that they are wearing their lenses well beyond the prescribed replacement dates. Even though your lenses may still feel comfortable to you, it remains important to throw them away as prescribed. To best understand why, let’s review a little history together.
Decades ago, when soft contacts were not disposable, patients received a pair of lenses and an extensive cleaning and disinfection system to maintain the cleanliness of the lens and the health of the eye. Predictably, this system often failed and patient’s eyes became increasingly irritated as foreign deposits were building up on the lenses. At that time, our Optometry profession had to deal with many serious eye health issues such as ulcers on the cornea, infections, and badly irritated eyelids. Some patient cases became so severe that they had to stop wearing contact lens for the rest of their lives!
When disposable contacts became available, the vast majority of lens-related eye damage diminished as patients are now able to wear their contacts with regularity and comfort, then throw them away. Without doubt, daily disposable contacts give patients the greatest consistency of clear vision and healthy eyes.
All of those advantages quickly vanish, however, when patients wear their contacts beyond the prescribed limits. All soft disposable lenses begin to deteriorate and build up deposits as they are worn. A lens that is over-worn will lead toward all the same problems that the over-worn lenses of decades ago caused! The key to avoiding these problems is simple: replace the lenses as prescribed.
Avoid the temptation of thinking “I’ll replace my lenses when my eyes hurt.” Irritation in the eye means that damage already exists. Don’t use damage and pain as your reminder for changing lenses. This damage accumulates over time and will result in serious eye health risks.
Some patients are hoping to save money by stretching the life of their contacts. Your cost for one red eye episode or corneal ulcer will far exceed what little you save by wearing your contacts too long. Timely replacement of your contacts as prescribed by your Optometrist will help maintain lifelong contact lens comfort and safety.