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Published On: Wed, Aug 4th, 2021

How long can you wear extended wear contacts?

Now there are some lenses like the biofinity contact lenses, which can be worn for extended periods. However, this practice is not recommended usually and it is better to take off the contact lenses while sleeping at night. But the fact that in emergencies, they can be safely worn for extended periods makes using these lenses very convenient and easy.

Image/CDC

Extended wear contact lenses—definition and description

Typically, as the name suggests these contact lenses can be worn for extended periods together like 6 to 7 days or even a month. The advent of silicone hydrogel, a material used to make contact lenses, increases the oxygen permeability of the lenses making this extended wear a possibility. 

Consequently, when a person sleeps without removing the contact lenses, the cornea can get its required supply of oxygen from the eyelids very easily. The lenses provide no barrier to the same thereby ensuring that the eyes stay healthy and fresh.

Benefits of using extended wear contact lenses

Several uses justify the use of the extended wear contact lenses like:

  • Unpredictability of lifestyle: People involved in professions with irregular work hours like the military personnel, the police, fire-fighters, emergency shift workers, medical staff etc., do not have time to clean the lenses regularly. They also keep odd hours and sometimes even have to make do with catching a few winks in their workplaces. For such people, extended contact lenses are a boon.
  • Binocular vision abnormality: People with binocular vision abnormality are unable to visually measure the distance or perceive the depth of objects properly. They need continuous vision correction and hence benefit from using extended wear contact lenses. 
  • People with a bad vision: Some people suffer from very high refractive errors, which require more vision correction than is usually required in myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia and astigmatism. Such people are unable to see properly and hence waking up at night becomes a problem. Wearing extended contact lenses help to alleviate this problem by enabling them to see clearly at all times especially during the night.

Risks associated with extended wear contacts

Wearing lenses for 24hours for days on end also has some associated risks. Being afflicted with eye infection is one such risk that if, left untreated, can lead to loss of vision. Other potential risks include inflammation or irritation in the eye and corneal neovascularisation, a condition wherein blood vessels start growing towards the iris to address its need for oxygen. 

These risks can be reduced and even annihilated by following the below-given practices:

  • Removing extended contact lenses before sleeping whenever possible
  • Swimming and taking a shower wearing the lenses should be completely avoided
  • Washing hands before touching the eye
  • Avoiding smoke and other such poor environmental conditions
  • Following all instructions given by the doctor and the manufacturer
  • Changing lenses before their expiry date

People opting to buy extended lens online should do so only after consulting with their eye doctors. Only after they are sure of the suitability of wearing extended contact lenses and if they are in a position to adhere to the above practices, should they opt for the same.

Author: Bhavya Tiwari

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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