June Newsletter: The Pros and Cons of Extended Wear Contact Lenses

Woman puts in her contact lens.

The Pros and Cons of Extended Wear Contact Lenses

Extended wear contact lenses are definitely a convenient option, but are they the right choice for you? Taking a look at the advantages and drawbacks of these contact lenses will help you make this decision.

What Are Extended Wear Contact Lenses?

Extended wear contact lenses can be worn for seven to thirty days before removing them, depending on their type. They're made of thin, breathable silicone hydrogel, a material that allows more oxygen to pass through the lenses to your cornea. If the cornea doesn't get enough oxygen, you're more likely to develop inflammation or infection. Some rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses are also suitable for extended wear.

Extended Wear Contact Lens Pros

Extended wear contact lenses offer several benefits that may make them a good choice for you, including:

  • Convenience. Since you rarely remove extended wear contact lenses, they're an excellent option if your job or hobbies make it difficult to remove or clean your lenses. You might prefer to wear these lenses if you enjoy multi-day hikes on mountain trails or work in a job that requires long hours.
  • Less Cleaning. If you hate cleaning your contacts, you'll love extended wear contact lenses. Since they're designed to be worn continuously, you'll spend much less time cleaning them.
  • Less Touching. Do you dislike touching your eyes when putting in contact lenses? When you wear extended wear lenses, you'll minimize the time you spend putting in and taking out your contacts.
  • Clear Vision Day and Night. If you're severely nearsighted or farsighted, wearing extended wear contact lenses means you can see clearly from the moment you wake up until you go to bed. You'll no longer have to pat your nightstand in search of your glasses in the morning.
  • Cost. Daily contact lenses cost significantly more than extended wear lenses. If cost is a concern for you, you may decide that extended wear contact lenses offer a better value.

Extended Wear Contact Lens Cons

Extended contact lenses also have a few drawbacks, including:

  • Shorter Actual Wear Schedule. Although extended wear contact lenses can be worn for seven to 30 days, not everyone can tolerate wearing the lenses that long. Your optometrist will tell you how long you should wear the lenses during the fitting process.
  • Possible Sleep Issues. Some people also find that sleeping in the lenses irritates their eyes. Regardless of how long you wear your extended wear lenses, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration recommends sleeping without the lenses for at least one night after the end of the scheduled removal date. All About Vision notes that a flexible wearing schedule might be a good compromise. If you follow a flexible schedule, you'll remove the lenses at night but can sleep in them occasionally.
  • Risk of Infection and Eye Issues. Wearing contact lenses increases your risk of eye infections whether you wear daily or extended wear contact lenses, but extended wear lenses carry a higher risk. According to the British Contact Lens Association, wearing contact lenses to sleep increases the risk of an infection by four times, no matter what type of lens is worn.
  • No Swimming or Showering. Any type of contact lens, including extended wear contact lenses, should not be worn while swimming or showering. The lenses can soak up germs in the water that may cause corneal infections. Bacterial keratitis, a common eye infection among contact lens wearers causes eye pain, redness, tearing, light sensitivity and blurred vision. Prompt treatment is necessary to prevent permanent damage to your vision if you develop keratitis.

Need help finding the perfect type of contact lenses for your lifestyle? We'll help you consider all the options and recommend the ideal lens for you. Contact our office to schedule an appointment with the optometrist.

Sources:

U.S. Food & Drug Administration: Focusing on Contact Lens Safety

https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/focusing-contact-lens-safety

All About Vision: Extended Wear Contact Lenses: Are They Safe, 2/27/2019

https://www.allaboutvision.com/contacts/extended.htm

British Contact Lens Association: Infection and Contact Lenses

https://www.bcla.org.uk/Public/Public/Consumer/Infection_and_contact_lenses.aspx

Review of Cornea and Contact Lenses: Extended Wear: Still an Option?, 11/15/2017

https://www.reviewofcontactlenses.com/article/rccl1117-extended-wear-still-an-option

CDC: Contact Lens Types, 1/11/2022

https://www.cdc.gov/contactlenses/contact-lens-types.html

American Academy of Ophthalmology: What Is a Corneal Ulcer (Keratitis)?, 11/21/2023

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/corneal-ulcer

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