If you get a feeling of relief after you take off your contact lens at the end of the day, chances are that you have been wearing them for too long. And you are not alone in this. Most users of contact lenses tend to overwear them. This can prove risky for the eyes in the long run. So how long is too long to wear contact lenses?
There are two things that every eye lens wearer should know. One is the maximum limit for daily wear and the other is the maximum time after which your contact lenses need to be replaced.
Types of contact lenses
When you go to an eye practitioner, he will prescribe a certain type of lens based on its suitability for your eyes. Most contact lenses prescribed fall under three categories:
- Daily wear contact lenses: These lenses are typically worn during the day, removed each night, cleaned and stored in a saline solution in their respective lens boxes. They cannot be worn during the night while sleeping and doing so will exponentially increase your chance of acquiring an eye infection.
- Disposable contact lenses: These have to be replaced based on the manufacturer’s recommendation. Disposable contact lenses can be further divided into:
- Daily wear disposable contact lenses which need to be changed everyday
- Biweekly wear contact lenses that need to be changed once every two weeks and
- Monthly wear contact lenses that need to be changed every month
- Extended wear contact lenses: These can be worn for extended periods of 1 week to about 4 weeks. After that, they need to be replaced with a pair of new lenses. Some extended wear lenses are also meant for nightwear or wearing while sleeping but most eye practitioners would ideally recommend that you do not do so. Removing your lenses at night before going to sleep is a safe practice that should be followed.
Contact lens wear time for disposable contacts
Generally, it is recommended that you wear your contact lenses for a maximum period of 8 to 16 hours at a time. After this, they must be cleaned and stored in saline solution. The period depends on the sensitivity of the lenses and daily wear contact lenses can only be worn for 8 hours while extended wear lenses can be worn for a maximum period of 1 week to 4 weeks. But not all eyes can tolerate this continuous wear. Usually, your eye practitioner will guide you regarding the proper wearing time during the fitting of your lenses.
Before you opt for any type of contact lenses, it is important to note that the risk of an eye infection increases as the duration of wear increases. Opting for an eye drop helps to provide relief to the eyes but long-term long duration wear increases the risk of:
- Corneal ulcers
- Corneal stem cell damage
- Chronic inflammation
Hence, you should have a talk with your eye practitioner regarding the length of time for which you can wear your contact lenses at a stretch. This will help you to take care of your eyes and enjoy freedom from eyeglasses.