Do I need new contact lenses?

woman with irritated eyes rubbing eye

Do you need new contact lenses? Maybe you’re having difficulty seeing, your contacts don’t feel quite as comfortable as they used to or you feel as if your eyes are dry. 

If you are experiencing any of the above — especially if you are having trouble seeing — you should see your eye doctor. You may need a new prescription or a different type of contact lenses suited for your specific needs.

NEED TO SEE AN EYE DOCTOR? Find an eye doctor near you to have your contact lenses and vision checked. 

What are the signs my contact lenses are worn out?

You may need to replace your contacts ahead of schedule if your lenses irritate your eyes, look dirty due to protein and other deposits, or are ripped or torn. 

A tear can be so tiny that you don’t see it, so pay attention if you feel like you have something in your eye after you insert your contacts.

SEE RELATED: Contact lenses: A guide for first-time users.

How often do contact lenses need to be replaced?

The replacement schedule for soft contacts depends on the type and brand you wear. Soft contact lenses may need to be replaced daily, weekly or monthly. Most people purchase disposable soft contact lenses.

In contrast, gas permeable contact lenses, often called hard contacts, can last for years with proper care.

How do I know when to change my contact lenses?

Talk to your eye doctor if you think it may be time to switch to a different prescription strength, type of lens or brand. Your doctor can help you make a decision based on your needs. 

Here are a few reasons you may need new contacts: 

Your contact lens prescription has changed to a different power. Any time your prescription changes, you’ll need to get rid of your old contacts and buy new ones in your new prescription strength.

You’ve have presbyopia or astigmatism. If you’re over 40 and have developed presbyopia — difficulty focusing that occurs with age — you may need multifocal contact lenses. There are also several types of contact lenses for astigmatism — a refractive error caused by the shape of the cornea.

You’re experiencing dry eye or other problems. If you’re suffering from dry eye — a common complaint among contact wearers — you may need to switch to contact lenses for dry eyes.

You’re wearing an older style of soft contacts. If you’ve been wearing the same brand of contact lenses for many years, it may be wise to change to modern silicone hydrogel contacts that allow more oxygen to reach your eyes and reduce your risk of red eyes, corneal swelling and eye discomfort.

You want to switch to a different type of contact lenses. If you’re not happy with the precision of your vision, or you dislike disposable lenses, you may want to switch to gas permeable contacts. 

Do contact lenses lose strength when they get old?

Contact lenses don’t lose their strength. However, you may notice that you don’t see as well through your contacts when it’s almost time to replace them. 

Over time, lenses can get coated with protein and other deposits that cause your vision to seem blurry. Replace your disposable lenses with a fresh pair or consider switching to daily disposable contacts so you can pop in a fresh pair each day.

How do you know when your contacts have expired?

Contact lenses come stamped with an expiration date that is usually about four years after the month they were manufactured. 

Look at the date stamped on the box or on the blister pack that contains the individual lens. You should see the letters EXP followed by a date. For example, an expiration date of January 2024 would read EXP 2024/01 or EXP 01/2024.

What should I do with expired contact lenses?

Never wear expired contacts. Throw away or recycle your old lenses. 

The Bausch + Lomb ONE by ONE recycling program allows you to recycle used or expired contacts and their packaging. 

SEE RELATED: Don’t flush your old contacts. Recycle them.

Can new contact lenses cause headaches?

New contacts should not cause headaches. Your lenses should feel comfortable on your eyes.

If you do experience headaches after you start wearing contacts, contact your eye doctor. 

Contact lenses can cause headaches if you have the wrong prescription, if the lenses fit poorly or if they are causing dry eyes. Or the pain in your head may be related to your contacts. 

Other causes of headaches include eye strain from working long hours at the computer, allergies or a sinus infection.

TIME FOR NEW CONTACTS? Find an optical store near you or online to reorder lenses or switch to a new brand or type of lenses.

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Allie Johnson

Allie Johnson has been a freelance writer for over 10 years, covering topics such as personal finance, insurance and health. Allie started wearing glasses in fifth grade and switched ... Read more