What is the difference between 1-day contacts, weekly-wear contacts, and monthly-wear contacts?
August 3, 2004 10:45 AM   Subscribe

What is the difference between disposable or 1-day contact lenses, weekly-wear contact lenses, and monthly-wear contact lenses? Are they really manufactured differently?

I ask because I don't understand why in the world one cannot clean and sterilize daily-wear disposables so that they last a week or more (which would save me mucho greenbacks).
posted by _sirmissalot_ to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I use daily-wear contact lenses, and I've noticed that even with daily cleaning and sterilization, they seem to develop irritating protein deposits more quickly than the monthly lenses I wore previously. They also seem considerably more fragile. Your milage may vary, though: it seems I've become more prone to developing protein deposits and irritation as the years have gone by, which is why I switched to daily-wear lenses.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:00 AM on August 3, 2004

IANAOptometrist, but I've heard there is very little difference.

I think it varies from person to person (some people have a predisposition for dirtier eyes, maybe), but I've stretched a 6 month supply of monthlies out for three years. I'm finally out.
posted by o2b at 11:18 AM on August 3, 2004

For whatever it's worth, I wear my weekly disposable lenses for 3-6 months at a time. I clean 'em every night with the newer Optifree solution, the name of which escapes me... so as far as I'm concerned, there really isn't a difference.
posted by ph00dz at 11:49 AM on August 3, 2004

I've been told the same as o2b, and I stretch as well. But I've made similar observations as Mr R... though it might very well be a tighter fitting. I don't find them to be any more delicate than prior types of lenses.

The bottom line is that Contact Lens prices have dropped substantially ever since the deep discounters blew the doors off of the Optomestrist's franchise back in the 90s. Mfrs can make more money selling in volume now that they can't get away with selling you 45 cents worth of vinyl for $350.
posted by Fupped Duck at 12:12 PM on August 3, 2004

Response by poster: Mfrs can make more money selling in volume now that they can't get away with selling you 45 cents worth of vinyl for $350.

That's exactly what I've been told--that the only difference is marketing . . . but I don't know if it is actually true. Apparently these things cost nothing to make. I wonder if there have been articles written on the subject--Googling is useless because of all the contact lens spamsites. I thought there was a class action lawsuit about this some years ago, but I can't find anything on that, either.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 12:16 PM on August 3, 2004

The only big difference I've noticed between contact lens types is the Focus Night & Day lenses. I've used all sorts (daily, monthly disposible) and they seem the same. Night & Days are so comfortable I forget I'm wearing them.
posted by sexymofo at 12:20 PM on August 3, 2004

The difference is supposed to be in the material they make to use it. There are two important characteristics: how thick it is (and therefore both sturdier and potentially more noticeable in your eye), and how well it conducts oxygen to the cornea.

From wearing contacts for more than 20 years and learning what I can, apparently most lenses are the same basic material--the extended-wear ones are primarily thinner, which allows means you starve your eyes less as you wear them and they're more comfortable, but they're a lot more fragile and unforgiving to handle.

The Night & Day lenses--which I switched to several months ago and really like--are touted as one of the biggest improvements in recent years. The big issue is that they're made of a new material, which not only conducts oxygen better, but it doesn't lose that ability to conduct oxygen when it gets drier. That makes a huge difference...my eyes definitely feel less strained overall, and when they get dried out, it's much less of an uncomfortable feeling.

That being said, I would never wear anything for a month straight without cleaning them, so after 10 years of disposables that I just tossed every couple of weeks, I'm back to cleaning contacts. It's just once a week or so, so it's not a huge deal, but it's something to be aware of.
posted by LairBob at 1:40 PM on August 3, 2004

Extended wear contacts are not terribly different in thickness. The issue is water content.
For almost 20 years, I wore a brand that worked amazingly well for me. That brand was discontinued 4 years ago, and it had a water content of 73%. Night and Day has a water content of 76%
I wear my lenses for extended periods of time. Night and Day are rated to be worn for up to one month.
Does 3% make that much difference?
From my experience, no. They feel no better or worse than the lower (but still high) water content lenses I wore for all those years.
The difference is that the Night & Day mfr did extensive studies to justify a marketing claim that they can be worn for that long, whereas prior brands never tested for more than 7 days.
The tremendous success of Night & Day guarrantees that others are coming out with similar long term lenses as well.
I really can't tell the difference in terms of comfort as I was able to do the same with my prior brand.
I was always upfront witm my Opthalmologist and they could only conclude that I was well adapted to wearing lenses long term. Many factors come into play for this.
ambient tear production (both during the day, and at night) and strong immune function are but two factors.
I don't advocate such long-term wearing schedules to others. My regimen, clearly, would cause problems for others, and not necessarilly right away. I carefully trained my eyes for this.
But for anyone wearing lens over night, I will share this tip: Always put a drop of lubricating fluid in each eye just before you go to sleep.
posted by Fupped Duck at 3:40 PM on August 3, 2004

Riding on the back of sirmissalot's post.....

My opthamologist convinced me to switch to extended wear soft lenses after wearing gas perms hard lenses for 20+ years. I have a stigmatism and get much clearer vision from hard lenses, but my eyes get irritated easily.

My Vertex soft lenses are supposed to last for one month, but it seems that they go to crap within 2 weeks. I spend 12 - 15 hrs per day looking at a computer screen. I have no idea how to clean them. Should I get soft contacts that I should change more often? This 6-mo supply cost nearly $200. Can I get cheaper soft contacts? How do I clean them?

I've also noticed that the rewetting drops do not work once my eyes get dry.
posted by Juicylicious at 8:43 AM on August 4, 2004

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