Should You Really Wear Contact Lenses For A Full Day?

What’s Really Going on with Contact Lenses?

Contact lenses are worn by millions of people around the world to help improve their eyesight and decrease the need for glasses. However, contact lenses and contact lens “abuse” can lead to serious eye problems. “Abuse” is the term used to describe contact lens habits that could be harmful and go against instructions by the manufacturer and your eye care provider. Some of the most common issues are patients wearing the contact lenses too many hours each day, sleeping in the lenses, and not changing lenses at the recommended schedule.

Our eyes need oxygen from the atmosphere to function properly. But, by placing a thin layer of plastic directly on the surface of our corneas, we disrupt this mechanism. As a result, we increase the risk of problems ranging from blurry vision to serious infection.

Even lenses that are specifically designed for ‘extended’ or ‘continuous’ use do not offer complete oxygen permeability, and thus should only be used sparingly — especially if you’re unwell and/or prone to infection. The number one rule for safe contact lens use is to keep the amount of time you wear them to a minimum and change to a new pair at the recommended intervals.

The typical recommendation is to wear contact lenses for up to a maximum of 10-12 hours per day. Of course, the exact number varies according to factors like your age, prescription, occupation, and general health.

This goes for daily disposable lenses as well as fortnightly or monthly lenses. And it’s worth mentioning here too, that if a pair of contacts says two weeks on the packet, that means two weeks. Some people ignore such guidelines and wear contacts for as long as they feel comfortable. However, if a lens is marked for a specific duration of use, it means it is only tested to ensure it’s safe for that amount of time.

In addition to following the wearing instructions, extra care should be taken when inserting and removing the lenses. It is important to wash your hands thoroughly before putting the lenses in and taking them out, as bacteria can be transferred to the contact lens and may lead to contamination and infection. 

Finally, don’t forget about cleaning the case you store your contacts in. Vision loss, associated with infection, has been linked to not properly disinfecting and cleaning the contact lens case each day, as well as leaving the old solution and topping up with new solution, rather than using new solution each day.

The fact that you shouldn’t play around when it comes to your eyes and contact lenses is further driven home by Kathy Dumbleton, a Senior Clinical Scientist at the Centre for Contact Lens Research at the University of Waterloo in Ontario:

“You could end up with a sight-threatening corneal infection the first time you do something wrong… You might sleep in your lenses just one time. It might be just one misuse. It isn’t necessarily a build-up over time, though the more times you misuse them, the more likely something is going to happen.” (Calculating risk in use of disposable contact lenses)

When wearing contact lenses, it only takes one unfortunate moment to permanently damage your eyes.

The take-home message here is to follow good contact lens hygiene. More so, there is another option that offers great vision without the risks  Find out if you can get rid of your contact lenses all together by seeing if you’re suitable (you probably are) for Laser Eye Surgery.