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The pros and cons of daily disposable contact lenses

Disposable contacts are a convenient option.

Daily disposable contact lenses are single-use lenses that are removed and discarded at the end of each day, and a fresh pair of lenses is applied to the eyes the next morning. Daily contact lenses are gaining in popularity among practitioners and consumers for their health and convenience benefits.

Before you consider the pros and cons of daily disposable lenses, here are two things to keep in mind:

  • Don't confuse "daily wear" with "daily disposable." A daily wear lens is one that must be removed before sleeping, because it's not FDA approved for extended (overnight) wear. Such a lens might be replaced daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly, depending upon the brand. In short, wearing schedule and replacement schedule are two different things.

  • In the world of contact lenses, "disposable" doesn't always mean single-use. Daily wear lenses that are thrown out every two weeks are sometimes called disposable. "Daily disposable" is the specific term for lenses that are removed and discarded daily.

Why throw away your contact lenses?

The more frequently you replace your lenses, the healthier and more comfortable your eyes can be.

Protein, calcium, lipids and other substances found naturally in your tears can build up on your lenses. These deposits make your contacts less comfortable than when they were new and can also make your eyes more prone to infection.

Of course, lenses can be cleaned, but cleaning is not 100 percent effective. Some deposits will remain and continue to accumulate over time.

READ NEXT: How to remove a contact lens stuck in your eye

Daily contact lenses: Convenience and health

There are two ways to avoid just about all contact lens care. One is to wear extended wear lenses continuously for several days, and then discard them when you remove them.

Unfortunately, overnight wear of contact lenses is not a good idea for everyone. And for many people, wearing contact lenses during sleep increases the risk of eye problems.

The other alternative is daily disposable contact lenses. Many eye doctors and contact lens wearers feel that they offer the best of both worlds: They are convenient because no lens cleaning is required, and they are healthy because there is no day-to-day accumulation of lens deposits, and no overnight wear.

Daily contact lenses versus reusable contacts

Even before the advent of disposable lenses, it was well known that replacing lenses often was a healthy thing to do. Problem was, contacts were too expensive to discard very often — so various cleaning solutions and devices were used to prolong the life of the lens.

Then contact lens manufacturers developed new manufacturing methods to produce high-quality lenses in greater volume, at lower cost. These advances led to lower lens prices, making it affordable to replace lenses more often.

Some of today's daily contact lenses are made of the same materials as traditional lenses; other disposables are made from new materials and designs developed especially for disposability.

How much do daily contact lenses cost?

Daily disposable lenses are more affordable than many people expect. And when you consider that no contact lens care solutions are needed for daily disposable lenses, the cost is comparable to other contacts.

Consult your eye doctor for more contact lens cost information where you live.

Can I wear daily contact lenses?

Yes, you probably can. Your eye doctor can tell you for sure after a comprehensive eye exam and contact lens consultation.

Though some types of contact lenses are not available in a daily disposable format, most types are. Consult your eye doctor for details.

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