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What Are Extended Wear Contacts and Should You Get Them?

woman thinking whether to try extended wear contacts

Would you like to wake up every morning and have perfect vision? If you're one of the millions of people that wear contacts or glasses, this may seem like a far-off dream. You'd have to have surgery for that to happen, right?

Not necessarily.

Good news: you might qualify for extended wear contacts! Let's take a look at the risks and benefits associated with extended wear contact lenses. This can help you decide if they could be the right option for you.

What Are Extended Wear Contacts?

First off, let's talk about what extended wear contacts are. As the name suggests, they're contacts that you can wear for an extended period of time. How long you can wear them depends on how they behave in your eyes.

You can wear them for 1 week, 2 weeks, and even up to 30 days. Your eye health and tolerance levels will determine how long you can actually wear these contacts. Since each pair of eyes is unique, always go with your doctor's recommendation over what it says on the box.

What Makes Them Different?

yellow post-it different from purple post-its

Like many other parts of your body, your eyes need oxygen to thrive. Oxygen reaches your eye by diffusing through the cornea. Carbon dioxide gets released through the same process.

Without the free flow of oxygen, the cornea can warp. In an attempt to get more oxygen to the eye, more blood vessels will form. This can cause the appearance of a bloodshot eye. Left unchecked, this can turn into a serious eye condition.

Contacts, while designed to be breathable, can cause less oxygen to reach the eye. This is why you need to take your contacts out for a certain number of hours each day, usually while you sleep.

Extended wear contacts seek to resolve this problem. Advances in technology have led to contacts that are made with silicone hydrogel, which allows for five times more oxygen flow than regular soft contacts. As a result, these contacts can be worn for longer periods of time and can even stay in your eyes while you sleep.Though it's a good idea to still take your lenses out for a period of time at least once every week.


The most obvious benefit of using this type of contact lens is that you can wear it overnight. This can be very helpful for people with unpredictable lifestyles.

Imagine a firefighter jumping out of bed when the alarm goes off. Would he have the time to put his contacts in before going out on the call? What if he contaminates them in his rush to get out the door?

Military personnel and people that spend a lot of time outdoors would also make good use of extended wear contacts. Trying to keep your contacts clean and sanitary on a camping trip can be pretty difficult. It's far more convenient if you never have to take them out.

Extended wear contacts also come in handy for those with extremely bad vision. Imagine waking up in the night and not having to fumble for your glasses to see. They are also useful for people with very specific vision problems, like amblyopia, also known as lazy eye. Extended wear contacts are the best vision correction option for them.

benefits and risks writing on blue background with node connections


Of course, there are risks to wearing this type of contact lens. The main concern is whether the eye gets enough oxygen. The silicone hydrogel in these lenses does allow for more oxygen permeability. But, any kind of lens worn in the eye will block the transfer of oxygen to a certain extent.

We've already mentioned some of the problems that can occur when the eye doesn't get enough oxygen. If at anytime your eyes get uncomfortable or red, take your contacts out immediately. This will give your eyes a chance to breathe and most minor problems should clear up within a few hours.

That's why you need to follow your doctor's exact recommendations. He or she may determine that your particular eyes cannot tolerate the lenses for the longest amount of approved use.

Another significant risk with extended wear contacts is the possibility of infection. Bacteria can get caught between the lens and your eye. It will stay there and grow for however long the lens is in your eye.

Needless to say, eye infections are very dangerous. Many people have gone blind because of aggressive eye infections. If your eyes get irritated, red, or uncomfortable and taking your contacts out doesn't resolve the problem, go see your doctor.

There are several things you can do to reduce the risk of developing an infection. The most important rule is to keep your contacts clean! Always wash your hands before handling your contacts. And never insert a dirty contact in your eye.

Limiting the Risk of Eye Infection

Other things you can do to reduce the risk of infection include:

There's no reason why you can't enjoy the convenience of extended wear lenses. Still, you do need to be aware of the risks and take the proper precautions to avoid damaging your eyes.

Ready to Try Them Out?

man with glasses crouching at the running start line

Now that you know what extended wear contacts are all about, are you ready to try them out? As long as you take the proper precautions, extended wear contacts are a great and convenient method for maintaining your eyesight. If you're ready, check out the fantastic selection of contact lenses available.

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