Contact lenses that you can put in and wear continuously for many days are the dream for many contact lens wearers. No hassle about cleaning, storing, inserting or removing them – the sound is practical, doesn't it? But is it safe? Find out if extended wear contacts are right for you.
How do contact lenses with extended wear work?
Most contact lenses are daily – you wear them during the day and take them out for the night. Lenses need to be removed because they partially block the flow of oxygen to your cornea. In other words, your eyes need rest without contacts.
However, many contact lens wearers wish they would not have to remove their lenses every night. Knowing this, contact lens manufacturers have worked really hard to develop a contact lens material that does not block oxygen and would allow you to wear your lenses for days – or even weeks – without risking your health.
Modern technology allows the production of contact lenses that release about six times more oxygen than regular soft contact lenses. Lenses for extended wear are made of extra permeable silicone hydrogel material and "breathe" so well that oxygen deprivation is no longer a problem, even if you wear your lenses for several days.
Are contact lenses with extended wear safe?
FDA-approved lenses for extended wear, such as Focus Night and Day or Acuvue 2, are safe if you follow your doctor's instructions. They feel quite comfortable for many days, unless you have very sensitive eyes.
The only problem with extended contact lenses is that since you do not clean them every day, small particles of dust can accumulate on them.
To prevent this, you must follow the following rules:
- Avoid dusty rooms
- Stay away from cigarette smoke
- Try to keep the water away from your eyes as you shower and wear tight glasses while swimming
- Never wear your contact lenses longer than your doctor recommends. Remember that disposable lenses with extended weeks should be thrown once a week and 30 days of wear lenses can only last a month, not a day longer.
To minimize the risk of eye infection, it is very important to pay attention to how your eyes are feeling and not to ignore any unpleasant symptoms. If your eyes feel irritated or simply uncomfortable, remove the lens immediately and give the eye 6-8 hours of rest. Rinse the lens thoroughly before replacing it. And if discomfort continues, do not ignore it, see your doctor. Maybe it is no longer for you to use long-lasting lenses.
What extended wear contacts are on the market?
Two brands of contact lenses with extended wear are FDA approved for 30 days continuous wear – Focus Night and Day by Ciba Vision and PureVision by Bausch & Lomb. Other lenses can be worn for a week without removal. The most popular of these is the Acuvue of Johnson and Johnson
Are contact lenses with extended wear more expensive than regular contacts?
Surprisingly, the price difference is not that great. Contact lenses with extended wear are slightly more expensive than regular contacts per week or month, and they are cheaper than daily disposable items. Since you will carry your contacts for a week or a month and then discard them, you will save on the cleaning and storage solution. So cost is not an issue when it comes to extended wear contacts.
If the idea of wearing contact lenses continuously for several days appeals to you, ask your doctor if extended wear contacts work for you.