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How long can I wear my contacts each day?

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How long can I wear my contacts each day?

The amount of time you can wear contact lenses in a single use depends on the type of contacts you have (daily or extended wear) and if you have any vision health issues, such as dry eyes or sensitivity.

For example:

If you use daily wear contacts, which must come out before bedtime, you may be able to wear your lenses for eight to 16 hours a day. 

If you use extended wear contacts, which are lenses you can wear overnight, you may be able to keep your contacts in for up to seven days. Depending on the lenses, up to 30 days of continuous wear may even be possible. 

However, some contact wearers can’t tolerate extended wear contacts for the maximum number of days. 

Bottom line: Ask your eye doctor how long you can safely wear your contacts each day.

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Other frequently asked questions about how many hours a day you should wear your contact lenses include:

How long can you wear colored contacts in a day?

You can wear colored contacts for the same length of time each day that you’d wear standard daily wear lenses.

Keep in mind that you need to visit an eye doctor to get a prescription and fitting for colored contacts, even if you’re getting them only for cosmetic reasons. 

Can you wear contact lenses every day?

You should be able to wear your contact lenses every day unless you have a temporary problem that prevents you from comfortably or safely wearing your lenses. For example, you should not wear contacts if you are:

  • Experiencing eye redness or irritation

  • Taking a medication not compatible with contact lens wear (allergy eye drops, for example)

  • Having an allergic reaction to contact lens products

  • Experiencing eye dryness that makes wearing contacts uncomfortable

  • Suffering from an infection of the eye or eyelids (pink eye, for example)

Your eye doctor also may tell you to take a break from contact lens wear at certain times. 

For example, getting a contact lens stuck in your eye may cause a corneal abrasion that needs time to heal. 

And falling asleep while wearing your daily contacts can cause oxygen deprivation to your corneas. If this happens, it may be wise to switch to glasses for a few days to give your eyes a chance to breathe.

What happens if you wear contacts for too long?

Wearing contacts too long can result in dry eyes, redness, damage to your corneas and chronic inflammation that can cause you to lose your tolerance for contacts. 

How long should you wear contacts for the first time?

When you start wearing contacts, it’s best to gradually increase the time you wear your contacts each day. 

On your first day, you might wear your contacts for four hours and add one hour each day. Your eye doctor will recommend a schedule for you when you start wearing contacts.

Can you nap in contacts?

You should not nap in contact lenses unless you use extended wear lenses that are approved for use while sleeping. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that napping or sleeping in daily contacts is a common risky behavior among contact wearers. 

Why is it bad to sleep in contacts? 

You need a steady supply of oxygen to your eyes, day and night, to keep them healthy. Napping or sleeping in daily wear lenses decreases the amount of oxygen flowing to your corneas. 

Sleeping in your contacts can increase your risk of:

  • Bacterial and viral infections of the eye

  • Inflammation of the cornea that can damage your vision

  • Corneal neovascularization, the growth of more blood vessels to supply oxygen to the cornea

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