Over 30 million people in the United States wear contact lenses. Contacts help correct many eye-related issues including near-sightedness, far-sightedness, and astigmatism. They are convenient for people with active lifestyles because they do not get in the way and are not affected by weather like glasses might be.
As convenient as contacts are, it is important to know how to take care of them to protect your eye health.
Why Should I Change My Contacts?
Using contact lenses is generally very safe, but if misused it can lead to serious eye problems. It can be easy to become complacent when it comes to lens care. Many contact wearers admittedly do not follow proper care instructions for their contacts which can lead to dry eyes, infections, and even blindness.
The main concern when it comes to not changing contacts as recommended is that it restricts oxygen supply to the cornea. Restricting oxygen supply can lead to abnormal blood vessel growth, which can cause painful complications. It can also damage the epithelial cells which cover the surface of the cornea and serve to protect against bacteria. This may leave the eye open to infections or corneal ulcers.
Keratitis is an infection which causes inflammation in the cornea. In severe cases it becomes scarred which can cause vision loss or blindness. Conjuctivitus is another eye infection which affects the conjuctiva (the outer layer of the eye that covers the cornea). Symptoms include pain, redness, swelling, discharge, and sensitivity to light.
If left untreated it can lead to corneal ulcers and other complications. You can help avoid infection by keeping your contact case clean, storing your lenses in clean solution, removing contacts before sleeping, and changing them as often as is recommended. People who sleep in their contacts are up to five times more likely to contract an infection.
How Often Should I Change My Contacts?
There are different types of contact lenses to suit various lifestyles. Each type has a different replacement schedule.
Disposable lenses are most common and most recommended by doctors as they typically have a lower risk of contact-related infections. Most disposable lenses should be replaced every two weeks, though certain types can be worn for up to 30 days. Daily wear disposable contacts are also available and are very convenient as they can be thrown away at night, eliminating the need for contact solution or cases.
Extended wear contacts are made of thinner material, which allows oxygen to permeate more easily allowing the wearer to safely sleep in their lenses. Some extended wear contacts need to be changed out weekly, while others are approved for up to 30 days of continuous use.
It is important to speak with your doctor about what your replacement schedule should be.
Dr. David Sobel has over 30 years of experience and specializes in custom fitting the most advanced contact lenses. He is here to help you find the most suitable lens for your lifestyle!