Eye Health Central

Contact Lenses Wearing Schedules

Contact Lenses Wearing Schedules - video

Understanding wearing schedules and choosing the right fit

The wearing schedule of a contact lens refers to the duration a lens can be worn before needing replacement or removal. The convenience, ease, freedom, and aesthetic appeal are all major factors that have made contact lenses a popular alternative to traditional eyeglasses. But with all the different types of lenses available, understanding the various wearing schedules is essential when it comes to your eye health and lens performance. Your optometrist will take the wearing schedule and your lifestyle into consideration when deciding on the best lens for you. These schedules can range from daily to annually, each with its unique benefits and considerations. 

Daily Disposable Lenses (Daily Wear)

  • Usage: These are designed to be worn for a single day and then discarded at the end of the day- typically before going to bed.
  • Advantages: The ultimate in convenience and considered by professionals to be the safest, most hygienic wearing schedule of all the contact lens types.
  • Hygiene: As a fresh pair is used every single day, there's a large reduction in terms of the risk of infection.
  • Flexibility: Suitable for most prescriptions, including astigmatism or presbyopia. Also available in various fittings
  • Convenience: No cleaning or storing is required.
  • Comfort: They tend to be thinner, which provides enhanced comfort.
  • Economical: Daily disposable lenses are not necessarily the cheapest unless you wear an own brand lens like Crystal- but they are the ultimate convenient lens
  • Considerations: They might cost more in the long run as you’re using a new pair of lenses every day. (There are a few exceptions to this that may cost less than monthly lenses.)

Bi-weekly and Monthly Lenses

  • Usage: These lenses can be worn every day for two weeks or a month respectively, as long as they are removed, cleaned and stored in a disinfecting solution nightly.
  • Advantages: These lenses take up less room for storage or traveling, they can work out cheaper than daily disposable, and are a little more robust so can withstand more handling. 2 weekly and monthly lenses are more eco-friendly as here is less waste.
  • Hygiene: Good hygiene is important especially as these lenses are handled daily for up to 1 month, particular attention needs to be paid to the cleaning and storage of the contact lens case as it does the contact lenses themselves.
  • Flexibility: Suitable for most prescriptions, including astigmatism or presbyopia, and available in various fittings.
  • Convenience: Not as convenient as daily disposable lenses but, once you get the hang of handling them they are a convenient and cheaper way of wearing contact lenses.
  • Comfort: Monthly lenses should remain comfortable throughout their wearing schedule and people find two weekly disposables even more comfortable.
  • Economical: Less frequent replacements make these more affordable than daily disposable lenses over time.
  • Considerations: Proper cleaning and storage are essential to prevent infections or complications. If you are prone to ripping or losing lenses then these lenses can work out more expensive, if you rip one lens that's a whole month's lens wasted.

contact lens wearing schedules

Extended Wear Lenses

  • Usage: These can be worn continuously day and night for a specified duration – normally up to one week with only some being approved for 30 days.
  • Advantages: Ultimately convenient, put a lens in and forget about it until it is time to remove it. For many people being able to wake up seeing clearly in the morning is a huge advantage. The most eco-friendly contact lens wearing mode.
  • Hygiene: Good hygiene is still essential but as you only remove your lenses once, twice, or four times a month it is not something you have to think about often.
  • Flexibility: Very flexible as they are available for both astigmatism or presbyopia and come in various fittings.
  • Convenience: The ultimately convenient lenses, there is no need to remove them nightly, until the end of your wear schedule so either, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly, depending on the advice of your optometrist
  • Comfort: Extended-wear lenses should remain comfortable throughout their wear time, both day and night. 
  • Economical: Extended wear lenses may be more expensive than monthly or two weekly disposable lenses, but you will need no, or very little solution, making them often work out cheaper than monthly disposables.
  • Considerations: Prolonged wear of contact lenses can increase the risk of eye infections. It's essential to follow your optometrist's guidelines. These types of lenses are not an option for everyone, as some people’s eyes can’t tolerate extended wear lenses due to reduced oxygen supply to their eyes which can cause dry eyes and even affect the health of the cornea.

  • Traditional (Reusable/Annual) Lenses

  • Usage: These can be worn every day and removed at night for six months to a year before needing replacement.
  • Advantages: Once someone has been successfully fitted for these lenses and their optometrist is happy with their cleaning, storing, and handling techniques they do not need replacements for up to a year, depending on their optometrist's recommendations.
  • Hygiene: As these lenses are designed to last a long time, a rigorous cleaning and disinfecting routine often using specialist cleaning products such as protein tables is essential.
  • Flexibility: These lenses often come in a wide range of fittings and can often be available in much higher or lower prescriptions than the mass-produced daily or monthly disposables.
  • Convenience: These lenses can be as convenient as regular monthly disposable lenses, but can last up to 1 year.
  • Comfort: These lenses should be comfortable, but some people find some degree of comfort is lost as they near the end of their wearing period
  • Economical: Due to their longevity, the overall cost may be lower than other frequent replacement options.
  • Considerations: Most optometrists no longer prescribe this type of lens, since they’re used longer, and the potential for scratches or protein deposits is increased compared to the other types described above. Infections can be experienced more frequently. 

  • Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) Lenses

  • Usage: Worn overnight to reshape the cornea temporarily, they're removed during the day. 
  • Advantages: Temporarily corrects myopia (nearsightedness), allowing clear vision during the day without the need for lenses or glasses.
  • Hygiene: Good hygiene is important especially as these lenses are handled daily for up to 1 month, particular attention needs to be paid to the cleaning and storage of the contact lens case as it does the contact lenses themselves.
  • Flexibility: These lenses are designed with a specific task in mind, so only suitable for people wanting to correct myopia, allowing clear vision during the day without the need for lenses or glasses.
  • Convenience: These lenses provide the ultimate in convenience as they are only worn at night, and are designed to allow your myopia to be corrected throughout the day without the need for glasses or contact lenses. 
  • Comfort: Comfortable lenses to be worn overnight.
  • Economical: The lenses are designed specifically for your eyes only as opposed to a mass-produced product, so they are quite a bit more expensive, however, they can last for 1-2 years.
  • Considerations: These lenses require specialised fitting, and need regular follow-up appointments to keep your eyes healthy and achieve the best vision possible. They can be a great non-surgical alternative to LASIK for vision correction.

  • Choosing the Right Schedule

    Choosing the right contact lens-wearing schedule is dependent on your personal preferences, lifestyle, and budget, but most importantly on your eye health needs, and what your optometrist recommends! 

    Here are some guidelines to help you discuss with your optometrist should you want to change your wearing mode -

    Lifestyle: If you are very active or travel a lot, daily disposables might be the most convenient option. But if you dislike the routine of nightly removal and cleaning, extended-wear lenses would be your ideal option.
    Budget: While daily disposable lenses might add more in terms of costs upfront, the fact that there is no need to buy cleaning solutions and storage cases might help offset these costs. Although traditional reusable lenses like monthly or bi-weekly disposable can be easier on your pocket, the regular cleaning and care required is definitely a factor you need to take into account.
    Eye Health: Ask you optometrist about your eye health. Depending on the oxygen permeability, tear production and sensitivity of your eyes, some lenses may be more suitable for you than others.

    To conclude: Understanding the different contact lens-wearing schedules will help you and your optometroist make an informed choice that aligns with your exact needs. Regular check-ups are essential to guarantee that your chosen lens schedule remains the right choice for your eye health and vision clarity. 

    Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
    Created: 1 Oct 2023, Last modified: 1 Jun 2024