How Long Do Contact Lens Last Before Expiring

When Does Contact Lens Expire?

Contact lenses are medical devices.  The expiry date on each bottle and box of the contact lenses represents dates that unopened lenses can still be used.   When you have already opened and started wearing the contact lenses, then when to replace these lenses is another thing.

This is an important question to answer. The other day, I asked one new patient how long she had worn her previous soft contact lenses, and she told me she used them for 2 years. Her previous soft contact lens she wore 5 years. As an eye doctor, this is unacceptable. I cringed, thinking about what could have happened. She was one lucky girl. If only her immune system was down, then the story could have been different. Contact lenses are safe when worn correctly and if the patient complies with the proper cleaning and replacement instructions. Non-compliance can cause eye infection.   

Do you know we must replace our toothbrush every 3 to 4 months? Eyelash extension every 2 to 3 months? Make-ups 3 months to a year. What more with contact lenses when they are placed on our precious eyes.

How long can I wear my contact lenses before replacing them?

Soft Lens Material:

When does a soft contact lens expire? 

Way way back, the only available lens modality is annual replacement lenses. These are found in a bottle. Nowadays, the replacement time for the soft lenses in bottles will depend on the material. Some may need to be changed every 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year. 

The replacement time for soft contact lenses in blister packs ranges from 1 day, 2 weeks and 1 month. There is no soft contact lens in blister packs that you can wear for 3 to 6 months or even a year. Check with your eye doctor if what they prescribed to you is a DAILY disposable, BI-WEEKLY disposable, or MONTHLY disposable.

Hard or Rigid Lens Material: 

RGP or gas permeable contact lenses are used for high prescriptions and irregular corneas. This type of lens is more forgiving than soft lenses, as the material is less porous and more resistant to spoilage. 

Rigid Gas Permeable lens comes in different sizes. 

A. Corneal Gas Permeable Lens 

Corneal RGP rests closer to the eye; your doctor will check if the lenses still fit well and are in good condition. We usually advise patients to change corneal RGP every 1-2 years. An extra cleaning agent such as Progent may be prescribed in between changes to strip off stubborn oil, calcium, and protein deposits. (Check out this video:  How To Use Progent ).

B. Scleral Contact Lenses

Sclera lenses are also made with gas permeable lens material. 

When does scleral contact lens expire? We advise patients to change their scleral lenses at least 2 to 3 years. However, some patients have tried to maximize their lenses and wear them for up to 5 years because of the cost. 

Whether it is Corneal GP or Scleral Contact Lenses, it is essential to visit your doctor annually to check the following:

  • Fit: Is the fit still okay? If you have a progressive condition such as keratoconus and have not yet undergone cross-linking, there is always the chance that your lenses can only last you for 1 year. If your condition is stable, your lens may last you longer. The fit is usually stable for other conditions, such as corneal scars due to trauma or infection.
  •  Condition of the lens: Are there a lot of deep scratches on the lens? Any crack? Does it still wet properly? If your lens has a lot of scratches, it is recommended to change your lens already. The scratches will be the vehicle for the microorganism to seep through. If you find a crack on your lens, it is not advisable to wear it anymore as it may harm your eye. Wear and tear happens, and when lenses dry quickly, it is time to change. Non-wettable lenses will not give you optimum vision and will cause discomfort.

C. Orthokeratology Lenses

When does an orthokeratology lens expire? Since the material of ortho k lenses are gas permeable, they can last 1 up to 2 years. We do not want to use this lens for more than 2 years as the lens may already have warped from the everyday cleaning and scratched up. Ortho k works in myopia control by gently molding the cornea (front surface of the eye), so we do not want a warped contact lens which may eventually affect the treatment. 

The reason why we may need to change the lens earlier:  

– if there is a significant change in refraction within a year

– lens is cracked or severely scratched

D. Hybrid Contact Lenses

Hybrid lenses must be replaced every quarter to a maximum of 6 months. The central portion may be a gas-permeable lens. However, the skirt is made of soft lens material.    

To enjoy more years of safe contact lens wear, replace your lenses on time and see your optometrists yearly. Compliance and being responsible are essential.

Dr. Millette Romualdez is an advocate for safe contact lens wear. For more information on how contact lenses can help change your lives, schedule a consult with us at 639215452389, or email us at  Dr. Millette holds clinic at Gold Heart Optical Centre in Quezon City, Philippines. The clinic focuses on fitting keratoconus lenses, contact lenses for other irregular corneas, prosthetic contact lenses and myopia control.

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