What is the maximum length of time to wear contact lenses? - SightMD Skip to main content

June 23, 2023

By: Catherine Felicia, OD

What is the maximum length of time to wear contact lenses?

woman with long eyelashes putting in a contact lens

In this edition of EveryDay Insight, SightMD focuses on a topic that has not received much coverage in recent times: contact lenses. As a convenient and affordable alternative to eyeglasses for improving the ability to see better, patients who wear contact lenses have many questions. Perhaps the most frequently asked question is..How long can you wear contact lenses?

How long can you wear contacts before replacing them with a new pair?

There is more than one answer to this question, as length of time where you can wear contacts depends on the type of lens. For instance, contact lenses that are designed for daily or on-time use may be worn within as long as a 14-to-16 hour time frame. On the other hand – for the purpose of resting the eyes – an eye care professional may advise you to remove your contacts for one or two hours before retiring for the night – which means less time to wear them.

Also, where daily contact lenses are concerned, you might wonder if they can get two days out of them. Sorry, but the answer there is no. They should never be worn except within the space of a single day, and are not to be reused. (After all, they’re called “daily” contact lenses for a reason.) And, if a pair of daily contact lenses are removed after a few hours, they cannot be put back in on the same day. You will have to open a new pair and place what we’ll call the “tomorrow” contacts in your eyes for the remainder of “today.”

Is sleeping with contact lenses safe?

Sleeping in contact lenses significantly increases the risk of serious eye infections. You should avoid it whenever possible. The risk of complications is still higher when you sleep in them versus removing them every night. The maximum time that any lens has been approved to wear continuously is 30 days. You should never wear a lens longer than that. If you must sleep in your lenses, most eye doctors will encourage you to take them out as often as possible, or at least once per week. Be sure you are wearing lenses approved for extended wear. If you feel tired during the course of the day and feel the need to take a nap, it is best to remove your contact lenses, regardless of whether they are daily or one-time wear types. Falling asleep while wearing your contact lenses may lead to irritated or infected eyes.

How long do contact lenses last?

How long do contacts last unopened? All contacts will have an expiration date clearly printed on the packaging. A new lens will last about three years before it expires. You should never wear a lens that has expired. Provided that you care for them properly, contacts you’ve opened should last a day, two weeks, or a month, depending on the manufacturer’s suggested wear time.

How long can you wear contacts?

While wearing contacts is a safe and effective way to improve vision, there are some things to consider that can make your contacts work well for you. Not the least of which is answering the question, how long can you, personally, wear contacts? Everyone is different, so take your time. Find the right fit for you. Hopefully, we’ve answered some questions you might have had, and that’s a great start to healthy eyes with better vision! If you find that wearing contact lenses throughout the course of the day is too difficult, you might consider alternating them with a matching prescription for eyeglasses: Wear contacts one day, and eyeglasses the next (or vice versa).

Any more questions about contact lens wear? The team at SightMD has the answers. If you are thinking about getting contact lenses, or want to upgrade your prescription, contact us. (No pun intended there.)