Daily contacts are supposed to be a one-and-done deal, but many of us are guilty of stretching their lifespan now and again. It's a common offense, just like sleeping or showering with contacts.
So, is it really that bad to re-wear daily contacts?
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Here, LaTasha Lawrence, OD, a Brooklyn-based optometrist, explains the risks along with best practices for daily contacts users.
Possible Risks of Re-Wearing Daily Contact Lenses
If you use daily contact lenses, they're meant to be worn during the day, then thrown out before you go to bed, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Putting the same pair of daily contacts back in your eyes can result in minor to severe eye health problems, including the following:
- Eye infections
- Vision issues, including blindness in rare, severe cases
"Daily disposable lenses aren't designed to be cleaned and to withstand buildup like reusable lenses," Lawrence says.
"Taking the lenses out, storing them and then trying to re-wear them can introduce irritants into the eye that can cause pain, itchiness and/or redness," she adds.
Is It Bad to Wear Contacts Every Day?
Your eyes need to rest just like any other part of your body, Lawrence says. Contact lenses can safely be worn every day, but they should not be worn for all waking hours of the day.
"Your corneas need a few hours per day to receive oxygen from the air without your contact lenses being there, and being asleep does not count because your eyes need to be open," she says.
Alternatives to Re-Wearing Daily Contacts
It's not a good idea to re-wear your contacts (daily or otherwise) past their recommended time. So if you're in a pinch and there's no chance you can pop in a new pair of contacts, just take them out.
"The tip is to wear your glasses if you ran out of lenses or forgot to pack extras while traveling," Lawrence says.
"This is one of the many reasons why you should always own and travel with glasses with an updated prescription. The possible outcomes that could result from re-wearing your daily disposable lenses is not worth it," she adds.
How Long Can You Wear Daily Contacts?
Daily disposable contacts can be safely worn between eight to 16 hours each day, per Lawrence. "The exact amount of time is going to depend on your overall eye health and how dry or sensitive your eyes are," she says.
It's important to take out your contacts by the end of the day to let your eyes breathe.
"Your corneas receive oxygen from the air, and while it's safe to wear contact lenses during the day, wearing them for extended periods of time can significantly reduce the amount of oxygen your eyes receive, which can lead to complications," Lawrence says.
So, How Bad Is It Really to Re-Wear Daily Contacts?
It's never a good idea to re-wear daily disposable contacts. They're called daily contacts for a reason, and trying to extend their use is only doing harm to your eyes.
Re-wearing or sleeping in daily wear contacts can increase your risk of getting a serious eye infection and jeopardize your eye health and vision.
If you have contacts that are meant to be re-worn, the CDC says to remove them every night, rub and rinse them with contact lens solution and place them in a clean case (don't forget to regularly replace your contact lens case, too).
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