Replacement, wear and care schedules
Different lenses need to be replaced at different times, due to lenses wearing out and in order to maintain good eye health. The length of time the lens may be re-used and how to care for them depends on the type of lens.
Disposable contact lenses
Disposable lenses should be replaced according to their disposable time frame i.e. daily, weekly, two-weekly or monthly.
Disposable lenses are the most commonly prescribed and are an excellent choice health-wise because there is less opportunity for protein and bacteria to build up on them. With daily disposable contact lenses, you won’t even need to disinfect your contact lenses after each use.
Non-extended wear contact lenses
Non-extended wear lenses are applied in the morning and removed in the evening. Lenses should be cleaned and disinfected before being worn again to prevent the collection of residues (proteins and bacteria) that can cause eye infections, and for improved comfort. Lenses are usually cleaned by rubbing between the palm of one hand and a finger, using an appropriate cleaning solution. In some cases disinfection using another type of solution is also required. Your optometrist can advise the best way to clean your contact lenses.
Extended wear contact lenses
Extended wear lenses can be worn continuously (day and night) for up to a certain number of days, usually seven to 30. These lenses allow large amounts of oxygen to pass through to the eye. Only the right type of lenses may be worn while you sleep – always check with your optometrist first. Extended wear contacts are not suitable for everyone; your optometrist can advise if they are suitable for you.
Long wear contact lenses
Planned replacement contact lenses last one to several months. Customised soft contact lenses can last up to a year; conventional rigid contact lenses can last even longer and often only need replacing due to a change in prescription.
Most optometrists encourage contact lens wearers to have eye examinations every 12 months to ensure your prescription and contact lens type are still appropriate and to detect and correct problems early.
After-care appointments are a great opportunity to raise any concerns you may have about your contact lenses. Since a contact lens sits directly on the eye it increases the risk of complications such as eye infections. While serious complications of contact lens wear are rare, regular eye examinations are a good insurance policy. As technologies evolve every year, your optometrist may suggest you upgrade to the latest material or design.