Disposable Contact Lenses: The Complete Guide

Disposable soft contact lenses were first introduced in 1987 by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Vistakon. They were called Acuvue. These days there are two types of disposable soft contact lenses: daily and extended-wear.

Disposable soft contact lenses do not differ from traditional contact lenses in many ways. They are made from the same materials, and both types of lens need to be replaced periodically. In the past, contact lens wearers would eventually discard their lenses.

Thankfully, various cleaning solutions and disinfectants were created to extend the life of a lens. Traditional contact lenses were, and still are, too expensive to discard on a regular basis. Advances in manufacturing processes have made contact lenses cheaper, enabling wearers to discard their lenses more often.

Disposable soft contact lenses are convenient, healthy, and affordable, and when cared for properly, they carry little to no risk.

Types of Disposable Soft Contact Lenses

All disposable soft contact lenses are designed to be worn for a limited time and then discarded. This is extremely convenient, since the lenses only require a minimal amount of cleaning and disinfection.

The replacement schedule for disposable contact lenses can range from one day to three months, depending on how well they are taken care of and the environment in which they are worn. The most common replacement schedule is about two weeks of wear per pair.

Daily-wear disposable soft contact lenses should be taken out each day and cleaned until the replacement schedule indicates that they should be discarded. Extended-wear disposable contact lenses can be worn overnight but should still be cleaned and disinfected to prevent eye problems such as giant papillary conjunctivitis, eye infections, irritation and redness, blurred vision, and general discomfort.

Disposable soft contact lenses are more comfortable and easy to maintain because they are used until the replacement time and just thrown away. This is a significant advantage for most people who wish to wear contact lenses.

New features are still being developed. For example, you can now purchase lenses with an added UV-light blocking agent. These lenses are not an adequate substitute for a pair of UV-blocking sunglasses, but some are known to block more than 90 percent of UV light.

Are Disposable Soft Contact Lenses For You?

In general, if the contact lens you desire can correct your vision problem as well as a pair of eyeglasses, you should be able to wear it. Other considerations are:

  • You need to be willing to pay more for disposable contact lenses; daily disposable wearers should be aware that they will need to buy 720 lenses per year.
  • Your particular prescription is available as a disposable lens.
  • Disposable lenses are a great alternative for people with allergies or who naturally build up deposits on their regular lenses.
  • Minimal cleaning and maintenance is required, although some form of maintenance will be needed unless you are wearing daily disposables, which are thrown away daily.
  • Your eye doctor recommends this type of contact lens.
  • You are willing to follow all care instructions given by your eye doctor.

What Will Disposable Soft Contact Lenses Cost Me?

When it comes to any type of contact lens including disposable soft lenses, you are going to pay for two things: the contact lenses and the fitting. Contact lenses can be bought from numerous locations, including your eye care provider, online retailers, optical chains, and even swap meets.

Various factors determine the cost of contact lenses, such as how many you are purchasing at the time, the type of insurance coverage you have, and any specials, coupons, or rebates offered by the manufacturer or distributor.

Regardless of where you buy your contact lenses, you should always have them fitted by a licensed eye care professional. Fittings vary in greatly price depending on the eye doctor, where you live, how complicated your prescription is, and the type of insurance coverage you have.

You also need to factor in the additional cost of cleaning products. Daily disposable wearers can eliminate this cost, which helps to offset the cost of the lenses.

Where Do I Buy Disposable Soft Contact Lenses?

Disposable soft contact lenses can be bought from:

  • Eye care professionals
  • Online retailers
  • Optical chains
  • Mass warehouses
  • Swap meets
  • Local pharmacies or drug stores

Advantages and Disadvantages Of Disposable Soft Contact Lenses?

Disposable contact lenses are extremely convenient, comfortable, and affordable. Plus, they can correct most vision problems. There are various options to choose from, making them attractive to people who once thought contact lenses were out of the question.

People who do not wish to clean or disinfect their lenses daily can choose between daily disposables or extended-wear lenses. People with allergies can also benefit from these lenses, which can be thrown away before deposits build up.

Although there is a risk of complications such as eye infections, the same risk exists with traditional contact lenses. The same rules apply—no swimming with the lenses in—and even though extended-wear lenses are meant to be worn for long periods, they should still be removed and cleaned daily.

The best lenses are the daily disposables. They offer the easiest maintenance, and though they are more expensive, they are still affordable.

Caring for Your Disposable Soft Contact Lenses

Unless you are wearing daily disposable soft contact lenses, you will need to clean and disinfect your lenses every so often, preferably daily. Never use tap water, saliva, distilled water, or homemade saline solutions to clean your lenses.

These substances can contain  bacteria and additional proteins that can build up on your lenses and lead to complications such as corneal ulcers.

Most daily wear contact lenses need to be taken out every night before bed. This is a great opportunity to clean and disinfect them. Some lenses require weekly enzyme treatments to remove excess build-up.

Although extended-wear lenses are made to be worn for days at a time, they should still be cleaned before their scheduled replacement date to avoid complications. Sleeping with any type of contact lens increases one’s risk of infection. The best way to avoid this is to not sleep with your contact lenses in every night.

Please visit the Cleaning Your Contact Lenses section of our site to learn more about the importance of cleaning and disinfecting your lenses, tips to help you avoid complications, and appropriate methods of cleaning.

Options for Disposable Soft Contact Lenses

Although disposable soft contact lenses are convenient, comfortable, and affordable, they are not for everyone. There are a variety of different types of contact lenses suited to meet your individual needs.

Almost all refractive errors can be corrected with contact lenses. The key is finding the one that fits your lifestyle, matches your prescription, and is affordable. If you have tried disposable soft contact lenses and do not like the results, talk with your eye care professional about an alternative.

Various types of contact lenses include:

  • RGP lenses
  • Toric lenses
  • Extended-wear lenses
  • Hard lenses
  • Soft lenses
  • Bifocal lenses
  • Trifocal lenses
  • Colored lenses
  • Special effects and prop lenses
  • Silicone hydrogel

Talking to Your Eye Doctor

Here are some questions to ask your eye care provider about disposable soft contact lenses:

  • Based on my prescription, are disposable soft contact lenses an option for me?
  • What features can be added to my contact lenses?
  • What are the costs associated with my contact lenses? Why?
  • Which cleaning products do you recommend I use? How often should I use them?
  • Which cleaning method is best for me and my contact lenses?
  • How long can I wear my lenses before they need to be replaced?
  • How should I store my lenses when I am not using them?

Sources and References:
We have strict guidelines for each of our sources and references. We rely upon vision, eye and medical information from peer-reviewed studies, medical associations and academic research institions.
  • Optician Online News Magazine, Daysoft Creates the Most Powerful Daily Disposable Contact Lenses on the Market, May 2011 https://www.opticianonline.net/Articles/2011/05/06/27586/Daysoft+creates+the+most+powerful+daily+disposable+contact+lenses+on+the+market.html
  • M. Beers, MD “The Merck Manual of Medical Information” (Pocket Books, 2003) 1287-1288
  • J. Anshel, MD “Smart Medicine for Your Eyes” (SquareOne Publishers, 2011) 330-331
  • J. Weizer, MD, J. Stein, MD, MS “Reader’s Digest Guide to Eye Care” (Quantum Publishing, 2009) 40