Are Continuous Wear Contact Lenses for Me?

Continuous use lensesContact lenses were first approved for continuous wear by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1981. After they were approved, eye care professionals began to report and increase in eye infections, and other complications in wearers of continuous wear contact lenses.

After it became clear that the increase of eye infections was linked to continuous wear contact lenses, the maximum wear time was reduced to seven days. Even though the lenses were deemed safe for up to seven days of wear, many doctors recommended nightly removal of the lenses to ensure that the eye was kept as healthy as possible.

(Lenses that can be worn for more than one twenty-four hour period are referred to as extended wear contact lenses. Extended wear contact lenses that can be worn for up to thirty consecutive days are called continuous wear contact lenses.)

Today, continuous wear contact lenses are once again approved for up to thirty days of consecutive wear. Modern continuous wear contact lenses are made of newer materials called silicone hydrogels. Silicone hydrogel contact lenses were introduced to the market in the late 1990s, and have grown in popularity since then. This material is super breathable, and allows the maximum amount of oxygen to the eye. The lenses can be worn all day and all night without having to worry about conditions commonly associated with contact lens over wear

When in Doubt, Remove and Inspect

Although continuous wear contact lenses offer the most breathable contact lenses with the least hassle, there are still risks that continuous contact lens wearers need to be aware of. Due to the fact that continuous wear contact lenses are not removed nightly, bacteria that are present in our environment and on our hands can be transmitted to the eye, and could become trapped between the cornea and the contact lens. Because the eye is a warm, moist environment, bacteria have the opportunity to thrive.

To reduce the risk of developing an eye infection or other complication, make sure that you follow the wearing schedule recommended to you by your eye care professional. 

While wearing your continuous wear contact lenses, you should, as with any type of contact lens, be aware that things such as dusty or dirty environments could affect the comfort of your lenses, as well as reduce the amount of time that you are able to wear your contact lenses safely. Exposure to fumes or vapors and swimming in continuous wear contact lenses could also reduce the time that you are able to wear your lenses without removal for cleaning.

When wearing any type of contact lenses, including continuous wear contact lenses, it is important that you do a sort of self-assessment of your contacts daily. You are the best judge of the comfort and clarity that you are able to achieve with your contact lenses.

If your contact lenses become uncomfortable, or you notice that your vision is not as clear as it normally is, you should remove your contact lenses, inspect them for any tears or other kinds of damage, and disinfect the contact lenses before reinsertion. If a red eye develops while you are wearing your contacts, you should remove and clean your lenses thoroughly before reinsertion. If the redness persists, you may want to throw your lenses away, and put a fresh pair in. If no improvement after replacement of contact lenses, be sure to contact your eye care professional.

Where to Buy?

Some of the most popular brands of continuous wear contact lenses are Bausch and Lomb’s Purevision, Ciba’s Air Optix Night and Day Aqua.

You can compare prices for continuous wear contact lenses on our comparison pages.

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