If you’re one of the 33% of Canadians who wear contacts regularly, you probably know the feeling of relief that comes with taking out your contacts after a long day. But did you know that this feeling could be a sign that you’re wearing your contacts for too long?
Contacts offer vision correction with a freedom that eyeglasses can’t provide, but that doesn’t mean you can wear them 24/7. In fact, overwearing your contacts is one of the riskiest behaviours for wearers. But how long is too long? Keep reading to learn more about how long you can wear your contact lenses and what can happen if you overwear them.
Types of Contact Lenses
The amount of time you can wear contact lenses depends on the type of contacts you wear. Understanding the differences between the various types of contacts can help you choose the best kind for you, your vision needs, and your lifestyle.
Soft Contact Lenses
Soft contact lenses are the most common type of contact lenses. They are made of soft, flexible plastics that allow oxygen to pass through to the cornea, making them more comfortable and easier to adjust compared to other types of contacts.
These contacts are ideal for intermittent wear or people who participate in sports as they rarely fall out.
Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses
RGP contact lenses are more durable and longer-lasting than soft contact lenses. However, while they generally offer clearer vision, they take longer to get used to compared to other contacts.
Although they aren’t great for contact sports, RGP lenses are easier to take care of and can correct corneal astigmatism.
Specialty Contact Lenses
There are many types of specialty contact lenses available that can correct several eye issues. The most common types of specialty contact lenses include:
How Long Can I Wear My Contacts?
Most contact lenses are available in two options: daily wear contact lenses & extended wear contact lenses. How long you can wear your contacts depends on which option you choose.
Daily Wear Contact Lenses
Daily wear contact lenses are single-use lenses that are removed and discarded at the end of each day. They can be worn 14 to 16 hours a day, but it’s best to remove them when you don’t need to be wearing them.
Extended Wear Contact Lenses
Extended wear contact lenses are available for overnight or continuous wear for up to four weeks. Extended wear contact lenses are usually soft contact lenses but are also an option for RGP lenses.
The length of continuous wear depends on your eye care professional’s evaluation during a contact lens exam and fitting.
Can I wear My Contact Lenses Every Day?
No matter what type of contact lenses you opt to buy, you should be able to wear your contact lenses every day.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and you may not be able to wear your contacts every day if you are:
- Experiencing eye redness, dryness, or irritation
- Taking allergy eye drops or other incompatible medications
- Having an allergic reaction to your contact lenses
- Suffering from an infection such as pink eye
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, book an appointment with your optometrist. They will be able to identify any issues that may be causing you problems while wearing contacts and can recommend treatment options so you can get back to wearing your contact lenses daily.
What Can Happen if I Overwear My Contact Lenses?
Proper contact wear is important to keep your eyes and vision healthy. If you overwear your contacts, you may put yourself at risk of:
More Contact Lens Safety Tips
To ensure that you’re helping your vision and not hurting it, follow these tips:
- Get a proper contact lens exam and fitting from an eye doctor
- Don’t wear contact lenses overnight if you don’t have to
- Don’t wear your contact lenses in the shower or while swimming
- Follow a proper contact lens hygiene routine
- Don’t reuse contact lens solution
- Don’t use saline solution for contact lens cleaning
- Replace your contact lens case every two to three months
- Take out your contacts if they are bothering you
- Never use saliva as a wetting agent