More than 34 million people in the US wear contacts every day. These lenses have come a long way since they were first manufactured in 1887 as a glass lens that covered the entire eye. Nowadays, consumers have an astounding variety of lenses to choose from: Gas permeable, silicone hydrogel, daily, weekly, the list goes on. Some people even sleep in their contact lenses! Cleaning options are just as varied, so it’s no wonder that consumers are occasionally confused about how to best care for their contact lenses. Here are the do’s and don’ts of contact lenses and how to maintain each type.

GP vs. Soft Lenses

Gas Permeable lenses (GP) and Soft lenses are the two options on the marketplace today. Most Americans wear soft lenses because they are immediately comfortable upon insertion, whereas GP lenses require a short adaptation period. However, GP lenses are firmer, and as such have better optics. They are great for wearers with astigmatism or bifocal needs. When purchasing soft lenses, thoroughly research the brand, as some cheaper versions tend to dry out faster and collect protein deposits that harbor bacteria. If you’re interested in the longevity of your contacts and don’t have a problem with cleaning them every night, GP lenses may be an affordable option. But if you are looking for comfortable, easy to wear contacts, soft lenses may be a better choice.

Cleaning Regime & Wear Schedule

Most contact lenses require the wearer to adhere to some sort of cleaning regime (and not just washing your hands before inserting or removing them). When removing contacts, DO place them in a lens container that is filled with fresh solution. The solution should be changed every time the lenses are worn, and the lens containers themselves should be replaced once a month. This is to keep protein deposits and bacteria from growing on the lens. Additionally, The FDA approves the various types of lenses for the maximum amount of time each can be worn before they need to be disposed of. DON’T wear lenses for longer than the prescribed amount of time.

Dailies: These contacts are for exactly what the name implies – daily use. DO throw them out every night and put in a fresh, new pair every morning. Dailies are the healthiest option as they do not need to be cleaned and stored, but they can get expensive.

Extended Wear Lenses: These lenses can be worn continuously for up to 30 days without removing them. They do not need to be taken out at night and cleaned; they are worn overnight while sleeping until you dispose of them. Though modern fabrication greatly reduces risk, sleeping with lenses may rob the eye of oxygen and cause infections in the long-term.

Bi-Weekly and Monthly: Both of these lens types require nightly removal and cleaning. They last longer and are more cost effective, but wearers must stick to a strict cleaning and replacement schedule. DO replace every two to four weeks, depending on the lens, and DON’T forget that they need fresh solution every time you take them out.

No matter the wear schedule, it is critical to keep your contacts clean for optimum eye health. Contacts are made of a thin, flexible plastic that can tear and collect debris easily. DON’T continue to wear lenses that have a tear or sign of protein deposits, as this can lead to corneal scratches, eye strain, and eye infections.

If you need more information on contacts, contact Whitsett Vision Group to schedule an appointment to get further insight from the physicians on what type of contacts are right for you.