How long can you actually wear daily contact lenses?

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When discussing the different types of contact lenses, daily wear lenses and daily disposable lenses are commonly mentioned. Below we give the scoop on how many hours per day you can wear them (usually eight to 16 hours), the differences between daily wear (multi-use) and daily disposable (single-use) lenses, how long daily contacts actually last and answer other frequently asked questions about contact lenses.  

Daily contacts wear time 

The number of hours that you can wear contacts ranges anywhere from eight to 16 hours per day. The exact time depends on a number of things, like how well you tolerate contacts, how dry or sensitive your eyes are, and your overall eye health. 

For instance, if you work long hours staring at a computer (a known cause of dry eyes), it’s wise to keep a pair of glasses handy. That way, if your eyes begin to feel dry or irritated after wearing contacts for eight hours, you can remove them without losing all means of vision correction. 

To help set expectations about your wear time tolerance, chat with your eye doctor. 

Daily disposable vs. daily wear contacts 

Understandably, there can be some confusion on the difference between daily disposable and daily wear lenses. Here are some facts to help distinguish the two: 

1. Neither daily wear lenses nor daily disposable lenses are approved to sleep in. 

2. Daily wear lenses are also disposable, but not on a required daily basis like daily disposables. 

3. There are different disposal requirements, ranging from daily to monthly, depending on the type of daily wear lenses you choose.  

If you’re unsure which replacement schedule your current lenses follow, or you’d like advice on which type of lens is right for you, it’s best to consult with your eye doctor. 

SEE RELATED: What are the best contact lens brands? 

How many days can you wear daily disposable contacts? 

As the name explains, daily disposable contacts are only good for one day. Because the instructions advise for the lenses to be thrown out every day, they give the option to buy lenses in 30-count (one-month) or 90-count (three-month) packs. 

There is a much smaller risk of getting eye infections with daily disposables because you put in a fresh, clean pair each day. However, it is still important to follow package instructions to maintain clear vision and healthy eyes. 

Can you wear daily contacts for a few hours on several days? 

You can only wear daily disposable contacts for one day and you cannot use them more than once. Without exception, you should throw them out after removing them, whether it’s at the end of the day or after only a few hours. 

Can you wear daily contacts for two days? 

If you wear daily disposable lenses, then no, you cannot wear them for two days. In fact, daily disposable contacts are supposed to be discarded after each use. So, if you remove them throughout the day for whatever reason, you must throw them out and apply a new pair later on, regardless of how long or little you wore them. 

If you have daily wear lenses and the replacement schedule allows for multi-day use, then you can wear them for multiple days, typically for eight to 16 hours each day (see above for how long you can wear contacts in each use). However, you must remove your contacts and soak them in fresh contact solution before you sleep, as sleeping in daily wear contacts is not recommended. 

SEE RELATED: Proper contact lens care 

Can you put daily contacts in solution for a few hours? 

As mentioned earlier, daily disposable lenses must be thrown out after each use, even if you’ve only worn them for a short period of time. This means you cannot let them soak in solution, regardless of duration. 

Daily wear lenses can be stored in contact solution when not in use, as long as you abide by your doctor-recommended replacement schedule. In other words, if your daily wear lenses should be thrown out weekly, then you can soak them in fresh solution each night for up to a week, but no longer — even if you only wear them three out of the seven days that week. 

SEE RELATED: Contact lens misconceptions 

Can you clean daily disposable contact lenses

Can you clean daily disposable contact lenses? 

The composition of daily disposable contact lenses is thinner and more prone to bacteria than others lenses. In fact, cleaning or disinfecting such thin lenses can compromise the lens material, causing them to break down and rip. 

If you suffer from dry eyes, and you’re not wanting to remove your disposable lenses throughout the day, talk to your eye doctor. They can recommend some rewetting drops for soft contact lenses that moisten your contacts and relieve your dry eye irritation.  

What happens if you reuse your daily contacts? 

The strict replacement schedule of daily disposable contacts may seem a little dramatic, but it’s to ensure the safety and health of your eyes. Extending the use for longer than recommended can make your contacts dry, easier to rip, uncomfortable and a breeding ground for infectious bacteria.  

This kind of bacteria can cause pink eye (conjunctivitis) and keratitis, which is an infection of the cornea (the outer layer of the eye). Eye infections are uncomfortable, inconvenient and completely avoidable if you follow your contacts’ replacement guidelines. 

Can daily contact lenses expire? 

Yes, all contact lenses have an expiration date. Stamped on the packaging of your contact lenses will be the month and year that they expire, using the format YYYY/MM. 

So, if 2024/03 is visible, then your contact lenses must be used before the end of March 2024. It is not recommended to use expired contact lenses, so be mindful of the date listed. 

If used correctly, daily disposable lenses are a fresh, comfortable and convenient option for vision correction. Weekly and monthly disposables (reusable daily wear lenses) are also a good option if you prefer a lower price tag and don’t mind the added maintenance required to clean and reuse your contacts each day. 

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