Disposable Contact Lenses: Teen Version

What are disposable contact lenses?

Disposable contact lenses are lenses that can be worn for a short period of time and then thrown out and replaced with new ones.

There are different types of disposable contacts.

  • Daily disposable lenses: These are used for one day only and then thrown away. You put in new lenses every morning and discard them at night.
  • Daily wear disposable contacts: These are worn each day, removed and disinfected each night, and discarded after 1 or 2 weeks.
  • Frequent replacement (also called planned replacement) lenses: These are worn each day, removed and disinfected each night, and thrown away every 1 to 3 months (depending on the brand).
  • Disposable extended wear contacts: These can be worn overnight. Ask your eye care provider how long you can safely keep them in your eyes. Even though these contacts are approved for longer wear, most providers recommend removing and cleaning them every night to prevent infection. You usually need to throw this type of contacts away after about 2 weeks.

What are the advantages?

There are many advantages to disposable lenses:

  • They can provide excellent vision and comfort.
  • Cleaning costs are less and they are easier to care for than regular soft contacts.
  • If a lens is lost or torn, you almost always have an extra lens on hand. You do not have to wait for a new contact to be ordered.
  • The lenses are replaced before proteins and other deposits can build up on them. These deposits can lead to eye problems.
  • They are a way to have another eyewear option other than glasses. You may only want to wear contacts now and then (such as for special events or sports).

What are the disadvantages?

  • The biggest problem may be related more to the contact lens wearer than to the contacts themselves. Some people try to wear the lenses longer than the recommended time or reuse the lens to save money. Wearing the lenses too long or reusing them greatly increases the risk of eye irritation or serious eye infection
  • Disposable lenses cost more than soft contact lenses.
  • You may find it hard to wear contact lenses if you have:
    • severely irritated eyes from allergies or exposure to dust or chemicals at your job
    • an overactive thyroid gland, uncontrolled diabetes, severe arthritis, or a tremor in your hands
    • dry eyes because of pregnancy, birth control pills, diuretics, antihistamines, or decongestants
Reviewed for medical accuracy by faculty at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Web site: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/wilmer/
Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-07-21
Last reviewed: 2010-09-07
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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