Mar 5th 2024

Extended Wear Contacts: Safe or Not?

Extended Wear Contacts: Safe or Not?

Did you know that the first contact lens was made of a fine glass material? Doesn’t sound so great compared to the technology we have today. Yet thankfully, contact lenses have come a long way since their inception. From hard, uncomfortable scleral lenses to the soft, breathable ones we have today, the journey of eye care has been revolutionary. Among the latest in optical technology evolution are the extended-wear contacts, designed for prolonged use, even overnight. However with new technology might come new hesitations, and the question often asked is– are these lenses actually safe?

What Are Extended Wear Contacts?

Extended-wear contacts have revolutionized the world of vision correction. These lenses are specifically designed to accommodate the needs of those who desire or require prolonged contact lens wear; whether for convenience, profession, or lifestyle. Unlike their daily wear counterparts, which require removal before bedtime, extended-wear lenses can be worn continuously for several days, sometimes even up to a week or more, depending on the brand and type.

The innovation behind these lenses lies in their design. Made with advanced technology, the materials used in extended-wear contacts have a higher oxygen permeability. This means that they allow more oxygen to reach the cornea, even during sleep when the eyes are closed. This is crucial because the cornea, unlike other tissues, doesn't have its blood supply and relies on oxygen from the atmosphere. By ensuring that the cornea receives adequate oxygen, these lenses reduce the risk of complications that can arise from oxygen deprivation.

Benefits of Extended Wear Contacts

The world of extended-wear contacts offers a plethora of benefits that cater to modern-day needs. The most evident advantage is the sheer convenience they offer. Think about the ease of not having to go through the routine of inserting and removing lenses every single day. For many, this alone is a game-changer.

Additionally, for individuals who experience blurry vision first thing in the morning, these lenses are a blessing. They provide immediate clarity from the moment you wake up, eliminating those initial moments of haze. This is especially beneficial for those who need to be alert right from the start of their day, or in high-demand occupations.

Extended-wear contacts are a perfect fit for people with demanding professions or lifestyles. Healthcare workers, for instance, who often work long shifts and might not have the time or facilities to change their lenses, can benefit immensely. Similarly, pilots, who need impeccable vision for extended hours, can rely on these lenses without the need for frequent adjustments. In essence, extended-wear contacts bridge the gap between necessity and convenience, making them an attractive choice for many.

Recommended Extended Wear Contacts

In the vast world of contact lenses, a few brands stand out, especially when it comes to extended wear options. These lenses are designed with advanced technology to ensure maximum comfort, clarity, and safety for prolonged wear. Here, we delve into two of the top recommended extended-wear contacts: the Biofinity 6 Pack and the Air Optix Night & Day 6 Pack.

Biofinity 6 Pack

Biofinity lenses, manufactured by CooperVision, are known for their high oxygen permeability, ensuring that the eyes breathe comfortably, even during extended wear. Made with Aquaform Comfort Science Technology, these lenses allow plenty of oxygen to pass through to the eyes, reducing the risk of complications associated with oxygen deprivation. Additionally, they naturally retain water, ensuring that the lens remains moist and comfortable throughout the day and night. The smooth lens surface also wards off deposits, ensuring clear vision. With a monthly replacement schedule, the Biofinity 6 Pack offers both convenience and quality.

Air Optix Night & Day 6 Pack

Alcon's Air Optix Night & Day lenses are FDA-approved for up to 30 nights of continuous wear. What sets them apart is the SmartShield Technology, which creates an ultra-thin protective layer to help shield the eyes from irritating deposits. These lenses have one of the highest levels of oxygen transmissibility among soft contact lenses, ensuring optimal eye health. Their smooth surface design also resists deposits from lipids or proteins. For those who seek the utmost convenience without compromising on eye health, the Air Optix Night & Day 6 Pack is a top contender.

Risks Associated with Overnight Wear

While the allure of extended-wear contacts is undeniable, it's essential to be aware of the potential risks associated with prolonged wear. One of the primary concerns is the heightened risk of eye infections. The space between the contact lens and the eye's surface, when warm and moist, can become a haven for bacteria, especially if the lens isn't cleaned and disinfected regularly. This can lead to conditions like bacterial keratitis, a serious eye infection that can threaten vision if not treated promptly.

However, the promise of increased oxygen permeability doesn't entirely eliminate the risk of oxygen deprivation to the cornea. When worn beyond the recommended period, or if the eyes don't get adequate oxygen, it can lead to conditions like corneal neovascularization. This is where the cornea, in an attempt to fetch more oxygen, grows new blood vessels. While this might sound harmless, these vessels can compromise vision and lead to other complications.

Additionally, extended wear can result in the accumulation of protein deposits on the lens surface. These deposits, over time, can cause irritation, reduce lens comfort, and become a potential source for bacterial adherence, increasing the risk of infections.

Safety Measures for Extended Wear Contact Users

The decision to use extended-wear contacts also requires a commitment to one’s eye health. Regular visits to your optometrist are not just recommended but essential. These check-ups allow for early detection of any potential issues, ensuring that your eyes remain healthy and that the lenses are still suitable for your needs.

Proper lens hygiene cannot be emphasized enough. Even if you're wearing your lenses continuously, there will be times when you'll need to remove them. During these times, it's crucial to clean and disinfect them thoroughly using the recommended solution. This process not only prolongs the life of your lenses but also ensures that they remain safe to wear.

Being in tune with your body is very important. Your eyes will often signal if something's amiss. Whether it's slight discomfort, a persistent redness, or a sudden change in vision, these signs should never be ignored. Immediate consultation with an eye care professional can prevent minor issues from escalating into major problems. Moreover, it's essential to stick to the guidelines provided by your optometrist. Wearing your lenses longer than advised can exponentially increase the risks associated with extended wear.

Alternatives to Extended Wear Contacts

While extended-wear contacts offer the convenience of prolonged wear, they might not be suitable for everyone. Whether it's due to personal preference, comfort, or specific eye conditions, some individuals might seek alternatives. One of the most popular alternatives is daily disposable lenses. These lenses are designed to be worn once and then discarded at the end of the day. This single-use design significantly reduces the risk of infections and eliminates the need for cleaning and storing, making them a hassle-free option for many.

Rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses, though less common than soft lenses, offer several advantages. Made of a firmer material, they retain their shape when blinked, providing sharp vision. They are also less likely to harbor bacteria than soft lenses, reducing the risk of eye infections. Additionally, RGPs are more resistant to protein and lipid deposits, ensuring clearer vision and potentially an extended lens duration.

For those seeking a long-term solution to vision correction, laser eye surgery, such as LASIK or PRK, can be an option. These procedures reshape the cornea, correcting refractive errors, and often eliminating or reducing the need for glasses or contact lenses.

Seeing Clearly: Making Informed Choices for Your Vision

The world of vision correction has seen remarkable advancements over the years, with extended-wear contacts being a testament to that progress. They offer a unique blend of convenience, allowing wearers to experience uninterrupted clear vision. However, it's essential to approach any vision correction solution with a well-informed perspective. The health and well-being of your eyes should always be a top priority. By consulting with eye care professionals, understanding the associated risks, and adhering to recommended care routines, individuals can enjoy the benefits of clear vision while ensuring their eyes remain healthy. Remember, our eyes are not just windows to the world, but irreplaceable assets that deserve the utmost care and attention.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are extended wear contacts, and how do they differ from daily wear lenses?

Extended wear contacts are designed for extended daily or overnight use. They are made from breathable materials and can be worn continuously for several days, unlike daily wear lenses that need to be removed daily.

Are extended wear contacts safe for everyone?

While extended wear contacts are safe for many people, not everyone is suitable for this option. Your eye care professional can help determine if they are a good choice for you based on your individual eye health.

What are the advantages of extended wear contacts?

Extended wear contacts offer convenience, as they don't require daily removal and insertion. They can be an excellent choice for those with busy schedules or specific visual needs.

What precautions should be taken when wearing extended wear contacts?

It's essential to follow proper cleaning and care instructions and attend regular check-ups with your eye care provider. If you experience any discomfort or redness, remove the lenses and seek advice.

Can extended wear contacts be worn during sleep and exercise?

Yes, extended wear contacts are suitable for both sleep and exercise. However, it's crucial to follow your eye care provider's recommendations and maintain proper hygiene to minimize any risks.

See Clearly
Alaesha Gaedke
Alaesha Gaedke

Alaesha Gaedke holds a M.B.A. from Franklin University Switzerland, and a B.A. in Public Relations from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. With her passion for the MedTech industry, her work explores the complexities of medical device technology; bridging the gap between the science behind Medical Devices and the audience for which they're designed for. Her work has been published in regulatory marketing material across Europe and the U.S.

Customer Reviews