Expired Contact Lenses

While some lenses expired within 24 hours, others expire after a year. Learn what to do when your prescription expires.

Contact lens prescriptions have expiration dates, just like all other prescriptions. The expiration date generally lasts between one to two years from the date that the contact lens was prescribed. Unless your eye doctor believes that a short-term prescription is necessary for your eyes, you should discard any remaining supply on that date. If your eye care professional issues a contact lens prescription for less than one year, he or she will tell you the reason why it is necessary, and will write that reason in your record. When your prescription expires, you won’t be able to buy more lenses until you get an updated prescription, so as that date is approaching set up an appointment. You and your doctor need to make sure your eyes aren’t in need of a new prescription, or in need of a different type of lens, since your eyes and vision change over time, and your requirements for optical correction also change.

Expiration Date Extensions

Your eye doctor may extend your contact lens prescription past the expiration date without completing another eye examination if your doctor believes it is in your best interest. However, associations like the AOA (American Optometric Association) and the CLAO (Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists) recommend routine follow ups of all healthy contact lens patients on a six to twelve month basis. Therefore, don’t be surprised if your eye doctor will want to see you at least once a year before renewing your contact lens prescription. However, if you request it, your eye doctor may issue a short extension.

Doctors Expiration Dates That Differ From Lens Boxes

All manufacturers of contact lenses are required by law to include a recommended replacement schedule for its products in their package inserts, fitting guide booklets and in some cases on the packaging itself. These recommendations provide a reference point for those eye care professionals who are looking for such information. But because each patient is different, you should always listen to the advice from your doctor since they know your individual needs.

Disposable Lenses

Proteins, calcium, lipids and other substances that are found naturally in your tears can begin to build-up on your lenses over time. The purpose of replacing your contact lenses on a frequent basis is to prevent discomfort, dryness, blurred vision or allergic reactions from these deposit build-ups.

Daily disposables allow you to put fresh lenses in daily, elimination the cleaning and disinfecting stages, leaving you worry-free. The only problem people have with this option is it can be slightly more expensive than using extended wear lenses. However, the simple fact that you put new ones in during the a.m. hours, and throw them away during the p.m. hours eliminates the worry of wearing them past the expiration date all together. Besides, the cost of the one day disposables will be partially offset by the savings that accrue from avoiding the purchases of contact lens supplies, i.e. solutions, cases, and certain other supplies.

You should replace your lenses weekly, every two weeks or monthly, depending on the type of lens you have, regardless of how comfortable they still are, or how great they still work. Since you’re using these types of lenses, and not daily disposables, chances are your contact lenses are experiencing some form of build up due to proteins, calcium, lipids and other substances. Although these lenses are safe enough for overnight wear, it’s important to remember that the longer your lenses are exposed to the tears in your eyes, the quicker the build up will form. Consult with your eye care practioner about whether sleeping in your contact lenses is advisable.

Even though you’re following your care instructions perfectly, keep in mind that cleaning and disinfecting solutions are not 100% effective, and do not eliminate the build-up. You can talk to your eye doctor and ask for a recommendation for cleaning and disinfecting solutions, but again none of them will get rid of the build up 100%. So, discarding these lenses at the time you’re eye care professional recommends is extremely important to your eyes health.

This article was last updated on 01/2013