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How long can you wear contact lenses?

Clock on wall

Do you ever find yourself staring at the television or scrolling through your phone late into the night and suddenly wonder just how long is too long to wear contact lenses? We've all been there. The amount of time you can wear your contacts per day, and how long you can wear them before replacing them with a new pair, depends on a number of factors.

Whilst it’s necessary to consult your eye care professional for your specific needs, there are a few basic guidelines about how to wear soft contact lenses and the best practises regarding wear time.

Whether you're curious about how long you should wear contacts the first time you use them or you want to know if you can squeeze in one more episode, check out this guide useful about how long to wear contact lenses!

How long to wear contact lenses per day

How many hours per day you can wear contact lenses depends on the comfort of your eyes and the specific lenses you choose. For general wear, the National Institutes of Health states, "Successful contact lens wear has been defined as being able to comfortably wear one’s contact lenses for at least 12 hours per day for at least six days per week while still being able to see at least as well as while wearing spectacles."1

It's important to refer to the manufacturer's recommendations for wear time regarding your specific contact lenses. You'll find that wearing contacts beyond the recommended wearing period likely will result in dry, irritated eyes and can possibly lead to infection or damage to the cornea.

How long can you leave contact lenses in?

Woman applying contact lenses

The type of lenses you wear will determine how long you can leave contacts in before replacing them with a new pair. Soft contact lenses are manufactured with different wearing periods including daily, bi-weekly and monthly disposable lenses.

Daily

Daily contact lenses are designed to be worn during the day, discarded at night and replaced with a new pair the next morning. They're a great option for those who don't want to worry about contact solution or cleaning contact lenses at the end of the day.

Bi-weekly

As the name suggests, bi-weekly or two-weekly contact lenses can be worn for two weeks and then replaced with another pair. Most bi-weekly lenses are designed to be taken out and night and stored in a case.

Monthly

A popular choice, monthly contact lenses are generally the most cost-efficient contact lenses for daily wearers. They're designed to be taken out and stored at night just as two-weekly lenses are. At most, it's recommended that monthly contact lenses be worn for 30 days and then replaced with a new pair.

Proteins and other deposits build up on the lenses over time which results in less oxygen reaching the eye. This can lead to pain, blurred vision, irritation and more, so attempting to squeeze a few more days of extra wearing isn't a good idea.

Can you sleep in contact lenses

Woman sleeping in contact lenses

In addition to daily, bi-weekly and monthly contacts, there are also extended wear contact lenses that can be left in overnight and worn continuously for up to a month. Each manufacturer will determine if and when removing these lenses is recommended. It's important to only wear contacts overnight if they're specifically designed for continuous wear. Falling asleep in your contact lenses happens from time to time - know what to do if you fall asleep with your lenses in.

How to use contacts for the first time

How long does it take to get used to contact lenses? Whilst contacts are very comfortable overall and it's exciting to start using them, it takes a bit of time for you eyes to adjust. Your eye care professional will recommend a wearing schedule that likely starts with a few hours of wear time per day that gradually increases over time. With their guidance, you'll eventually be able to better know what works and feels good for your eyes.

Wearing coloured contact lenses

If you've decided to wear coloured lenses for Halloween or daily life, remember that they are to be treated like standard contacts. Wear and remove them according to the manufacturer's recommendations to keep your eyes happy and healthy.

Contact lenses are convenient and comfortable when worn for the proper length of time. This guide is meant to give a general idea of how long to wear some types of contact lenses. Always consult your eye care professional for advice regarding your particular situation.

1: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7323801/