Contact use duration
November 18, 2005 1:51 PM   Subscribe

How long can you really use contacts?

I use my two week disposables (not day/night, I clean them nightly) for a month. This way I save on my supply by only needing a 6 mo. supply for a year.

Is this really ok for my eyes? I haven't had any problems. How long could you safely use say, daily wear lenses? Could you stretch monthly disposables for over two months?
posted by like_neon to Health & Fitness (29 answers total)
I use my two week disposables for up to a month, too. (I'm sure my eye doctor would freak out, but I had a regular GP tell me once that that's what he does, too.) As I understand it, the disposables are much thinnner/flimsier than regular contacts, so they'll start to break down much beyond that, though.
posted by scody at 2:00 PM on November 18, 2005

I once wore two-week disposables for over a year. My god, it feels so good to say that.

My eyes are fine, although I now change them every two months or so. Then again, I am just one lonely data point. And years from now, who knows.
posted by deadfather at 2:07 PM on November 18, 2005

The first eye doctor who prescribed two-week disposable contact lenses to me actually suggested that I wear them for a month. It was his medical opinion that they were perfectly safe to wear for at least that long.

I do wear mine routinely for a month, and I'll admit to having worn them for two months. I get a clean bill of eye health each year at the optometrist, but YMMV.
posted by divka at 2:08 PM on November 18, 2005

I generally wear mine for a month; my current pair, however, I've had in for probably two. I try to take them out every night, though occasionally I do sleep in the things.

My optometrist is routinely horrified by my habits, but has to admit my vision has not worsened, and my eyes are in good health. Actually, my vision in one eye has improved despite my contact habits...though I am sure the two are not related.

So, it's probably not going to kill you to extend the usage of your contacts.
posted by angeline at 2:11 PM on November 18, 2005

I stopped wearing contacts daily about ten years ago. Usage tapered off for a couple years; now I only wear 'em for very special occasions. In the interim, I had to start wearing bifocals (so now, when I wear the contacts, I can't read anything close-up). But here's the thing -- my stash ran out, maybe eight years ago, so I've been using that last pair ever since -- I put 'em in maybe one day a year, now, mostly when I'll be outside, all day of a sunny day, and want be stylish with my Ray-Bans -- or on travel, visiting public paths: the sento in Japan, or, just last month, the Kiraly in Budapest.
posted by Rash at 2:14 PM on November 18, 2005

When I was really broke, my optometrist let it slip that it's okay to wear the two-week disposables for at least a month. They tend to dry out after about two weeks, so I carry lens drops. If I've been in smoky bars, working late at the computer or crying more than usual, my contacts won't make it a whole month.
posted by hamster at 2:15 PM on November 18, 2005

But here's the thing -- my stash ran out, maybe eight years ago, so I've been using that last pair ever since

This is ridiculously damaging to your eyes because you have absolutely no idea how much bacteria has accumulated on your lenses since Day 1. If you had access to a lab, I would tell you to have them examined (what you would see would frighten you beyond belief).

People can do what they want...but this type of behavior is scary, scary bad for your long-term eye health and should be avoided at all costs.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 2:27 PM on November 18, 2005

Response by poster: SeizeTheDay: Do you just mean Rash's behavior? Or do you mean using contacts longer than recommended in general?

I think you mean just what Rash does, which even to me sounds like pushing the envelope (but it sure makes me feel better about using my lenses for just an extra two weeks. :) )
posted by like_neon at 2:33 PM on November 18, 2005

I use Acuvue Advance contacts (1-2 week disposables). I use them until my eyes start feeling tired or scratchy at the end of the day (usually 2-4 weeks, depending on what I've been doing).

Checking my order records at 1800contacts, it looks like I go through a 6 month supply every 9 months.
posted by I Love Tacos at 2:35 PM on November 18, 2005

Yeah. Eight years on an opened set of lenses is horrible. If they were sealed the whole time I'd still be skeptical (could you imagine using any kind of medication eight years after it was purchased?).

I use my month-replacements for two months, give or take a couple weeks. Not exactly the greatest example to follow, per se, but when I stretch them out, it's because I don't use them for extended periods of times and keep them clean (replacing the solution every few days).

But I also have high astigmatism, which makes my ability to find cheap, disposable lenses all but impossible. So I try to save a couple bucks. My optometrist said that it wasn't too big a deal, but warned against any usage past the double marker.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 2:39 PM on November 18, 2005

I keep using my contacts untill they fall out or get too uncomfortable to wear. My final two contacts lasted me two months (these were acuvu 2s) although at the end, they were really starting to wear out.

These new contacts feel wonderful in contrast. I also sleep with 'em in.
posted by delmoi at 2:53 PM on November 18, 2005

This is ridiculously damaging to your eyes because you have absolutely no idea how much bacteria has accumulated on your lenses since Day 1. If you had access to a lab, I would tell you to have them examined (what you would see would frighten you beyond belief).

Um, it sounds like they are hardly ever used, and mostly stored in solution when not in use. I would imagine solution would be anti-bacterial somewhat, and and there wouldn't really be any food for the bacteria to eat.

There is no way a soft contact could last 8 years of constant use.

by the way, in my case the reason the contacts become uncomfortable is that the edges actually become frayed(!) and can scratch my eyelids.
posted by delmoi at 2:56 PM on November 18, 2005

they are hardly ever used, and mostly stored in solution when not in use.

Yes, that's the situation. And I'm only wearing 'em a couple hours at a time, now (plus due to the bifocals, don't think my optometrist would update my perscription).
posted by Rash at 3:04 PM on November 18, 2005

My eye doctor (an opthalmologist, not an optometrist) told me it was okay to wear disposable lenses as long as they felt comfortable.

I last got a six-month supply about three years ago.
posted by elisabeth r at 3:24 PM on November 18, 2005

Same as divka, for me. My doc told me it was okay to wear them for a month and I often stretch that to 2 months. Every time I go to the eye doctor he tells me what a good job I'm doing of keeping my contacts in good shape. All I actually do is put them in saline every night and wear them until they practically fall out of my eyes because they're so dry.
posted by jdl at 3:27 PM on November 18, 2005

Protein and other mucusy gunk will build up on the lenses, and this stuff, being not as slippery as etafilcon or methafilcon, is slightly more abrasive to your cornea.

Corneal abrasion is insidiously damaging; it can lead to blindness, and predisposes you to certain infections including that nasty Acanthamoeba or whatever it's called.

That said, use your own judgement. I generally get 20 or so 8-12 hour days of wear out of my own disposables. I clean and store them every night in an all-in-one solution (Alcon Optifree Express, if you care) and rinse them with Bausch and Lomb's "sensitive eyes" saline + potassium before I put them back in.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:38 PM on November 18, 2005 [1 favorite]

my doctor also told me, where them until they're uncomfortable. we don't trust our own bodies enough these days, only authority figures like doctors. when they're done, your eyes will tell you
posted by yonation at 3:54 PM on November 18, 2005 [1 favorite]

I'll just add my experience to the list:

I wear the Bausch & Lomb SofLens 59 two-week disposables. I generally wear each pair for almost a month; after the third week, they begin to get dry and uncomfortable (even with drops) after a few hours in, and several days later I usually get fed up with it enough to break out the next set.

It usually works out to just about four weeks per pair. There's nothing like the wonderful feeling of a fresh set of contacts after the old set starts to bother my eyes.
posted by dotreptile at 4:01 PM on November 18, 2005

I wear mine until I drop them on the floor, or get them caught in the screwtop of my lens case, and have to replace them. That's usually 3 weeks to a month. Sometimes it goes longer than that, and I start noticing them being more and more uncomfortable, so I replace them. I don't think I've ever had any that lasted longer than six weeks.

Why are contacts lenses considered drugs, by the way? I asked the guy at the pharmacy, and he actually got a little peevish with me. His response was, "the FDA classifies them as drugs," which was just a restatement of my question. Anybody know? Why does the government care if I don't think I need a new prescription every two years?
posted by Hildago at 4:03 PM on November 18, 2005

Hildago, I'm not sure why they're considered "drugs," but they're prescription-only items because it's important that the contact lenses are correctly fitted to your eye size and shape (which can change over time) or they can cause damage. I don't think the FDA's main concern is how well your vision's being corrected--it's that you might do permanent damage to your eye. (That's why 'decorative' contact lenses can't be sold OTC.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:19 PM on November 18, 2005

I wear a pair Survues for about 3-4 months at a time. I never wash them but I do remove them to sleep and put them in solution every night. (I haven't found an Opxxxxist who can give me a straight answer on the difference betwee Survues and Accuvues)

When soft contacts first came out they were only supposed to last a year - compared to those nasty indestructable hard ones which lasted forever. Cleaning was not only more time-consuming, but the primary reason they wore out. I seem to remember Bausch and Lomb getting into some sort of legal trouble years back for putting the same lenses in both disposable packages and their original long life packages. I suspect disposable contacts are sold as such to increase the number of contacts sold.
posted by klarck at 5:05 PM on November 18, 2005

My opthamologist told me to wear my one-month contacts for two months. I have a mix of near-sightedness and astigmatism.

This past summer I lost a contact while surfing and I got off schedule. I realized that something was wrong when I got an eye infection and remembered that the contact in that eye (the un-lost contact) was three or four months old.
posted by nekton at 5:06 PM on November 18, 2005

we don't trust our own bodies enough these days, only authority figures like doctors.

Right! Back in caveman days, when we plucked natural contact lenses off the contact-lens tree that grows on the ocean floor, bathed in natural sea-salt saline, no one ever had these problems. It was only when doctors got involved that the whole contact-lens thing turned to shit. Right!

By the time your cornea hurts, you've been damaging it for days. Do not risk your corneas this way. They are hard to replace.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:17 PM on November 18, 2005

For probably three years I wore my contacts nearly night and day (Two week variety) and threw them away when I felt like it, which is to say probably a month or six weeks in. During the fourth year, I develped an allergy to the particular brand of lenses (having already developed an allergy in the past to the enzymatic cleaner stuff one uses with regular contacts years ago), had to change contact brands, and was reduced to a red-eyed, streaming mass of blur if I wore the things for longer than eight hours at a time.

I was a moron. Now, I can wear my lenses for longer than eight hours, but I sometimes have problems and have to throw a set out sooner than I'd like because apparently my eyes have permanently rebelled and grub up lenses like crazy. My eyes have literally not been the same for the last three years. My vision is not technically worse, but I have managed to decrease my threshold where contact lenses are concerned. As someone who hates her glasses, it's sometimes like being blind in hell.

Don't abuse your eyes. It's ridiculously dumb.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:07 PM on November 18, 2005

Similary to Medieval Maven, my dear friend and MeFi's own Jesse H. Christ used and abused his contacts (wearing weekly disposables for months, sleeping in them, loaning them to friends - okay not that last one) and now cannot wear contacts at all. He has to wear his glasses, which look very dashing, but which means he has no peripheral vision, making it hard for him to walk down steps. He's been hit by cars he didn't see twice, albeit not very hard.
posted by jennyb at 1:45 PM on November 19, 2005

Lesson - replace your contacts regularly or get hit by a car.
posted by jennyb at 1:45 PM on November 19, 2005

I use mine for about a year at a time (Acuvue disposable 1-weeks), and I've never had a problem. The only issue is when they dry out (if I take them out and the case leaks in my backpack).

My last eye exam was five years ago, and I'm still only halfway through my 6-month supply. No issues so far. The only thing to worry about is if your vision changes, which it's likely to do over multiple years, depending on your age (i.e. I should probably get an eye exam soon).
posted by Geektronica at 2:50 PM on November 19, 2005

I have thirty day night-n-days that i've been wearing for at least a year. I haven't had time to make an appointment, and i've run out. No problems - these are actually more comfortable than any i've worn.
On a related note, a guy i used to work with has worn one pair of hard lenses from junior high until now (and still going) - he's in his fifties now. He lost them for about ten years in the middle there, then found them, still in the case, and popped them back in.
posted by muddylemon at 10:47 PM on November 19, 2005

I was only hit by a car once.

I used to wear my contacts for 2 months at a time, with no break. This went on for a good 8 -10 years. Then I got irritation so bad that I couldn't open my eyes for a whole day (sucked). Then I couldn't wear contacts. I have put them in a couple times since then for going to the gym or what-not, but I am very leary.
posted by Jesse H Christ at 5:05 PM on November 20, 2005

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