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Home » Contact Lenses & Eyeglasses » Pros & Cons of Extended Wear Contact Lenses

Pros & Cons of Extended Wear Contact Lenses

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Contact Lenses For Residents of  Allentown, Bethlehem & Whitehall, PA

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Extended wear contact lenses may be the right option for you if you want to wake up every day with clear vision.

Contact lenses are available for two different wearing schedules

  • Daily wear (lenses you remove before sleep)
  • Extended wear (lenses you can wear overnight)

So what’s the difference between daily wear and extended wear lenses? Most extended wear (EW) contacts are thinner than daily wear lenses and are made of silicone hydrogel. This advanced soft lens material enables EW lenses to “breathe” better than daily wear lenses, allowing more oxygen to reach the cornea. This is especially important when lenses are worn continuously for extended periods of time.

These advances and new approaches to extended wear include:

  • Most modern extended wear lenses are now made with silicone hydrogel lens materials that allow significantly more oxygen to pass through the lenses to the eye than previous EW lenses.This decreases the risk of hypoxia that makes the cornea more susceptible to inflammation and infection.
  • Nearly all soft lenses prescribed for extended wear today are disposable that are discarded at two-week or monthly intervals. More frequent replacement of EW lenses reduces the build-up of proteins and other lens deposits that cause eye inflammation and discomfort and create a hospitable environment for the growth of infection-causing microorganisms
  • Researchers found, however, that the incidence of eye infections was greater among people who slept while wearing contact lenses.Extended wear lenses are a concern because bacteria and other potentially dangerous microorganisms can adhere to the lenses and get trapped between the lenses and your eyes. These microbes thrive in the warm, moist environment under your contact lenses, especially when your eyelids are closed during sleep. And because contact lenses reduce the oxygen supply to your  corneas, your eyes are less able to fight off infections.
  • Advances in contact lens technology have made new extended wear contact lenses safer than previous lenses prescribed for continuous wear.

Contact Lens Extended Wear Safety

Despite these improvements, wearing contact lenses during sleep still carries a greater risk of complications than removing your lenses daily. For this reason, most eye care practitioners prefer daily wear lenses for their patients.

As our eye doctor can explain during your next eye exam, eye infections and other complications of contact lens wear often are caused by failure to clean and disinfect the lenses after each use. You can bypass the need for daily lens care by wearing extended wear contacts continuously, but it's critical to discard your lenses as instructed by your eye doctor and not exceed the maximum wearing schedule your doctor recommends.

Usually this means replacing your lenses weekly, every two weeks or monthly (depending on the type of lenses you have), and sleeping without your lenses on at least once a week.
Keep in mind that exposure to smoke, wearing your contacts while swimming or relaxing in a pool or hot tub, dry eyes and previous eye irritations or infections are additional risk factors for extended wear contact lens complications.

Another way to avoid a problem with extended wear lenses is to "listen" to your eyes and take action, if necessary. Every day, take a good look at your eyes in a mirror. They should always:

  • Look good
  • Feel good
  • See well

If you experience red or irritated eyes or reduced vision that does not improve with fresh lenses or lens cleaning, remove your lenses and consult our eye doctors at Dr. Michael Brodsky and Associates.