There’s a whole range of contact lenses out there, including both daily wear and continuous wear lenses. The more commonly available type are for day use only, which are worn while awake, removed at the end of the day and either thrown away (known as ‘daily disposables’) or cleaned and stored overnight in a lens case (twice-monthly or monthly disposables).
With these types of lens, it’s important to never leave them in overnight, as this can result in pain, blurred vision, red eyes, watery eyes, light sensitivity, and other more serious complications like infections.
If you want the convenience of not having to remove your contacts while you sleep, there are special night and day lenses designed for continuous wear: continuous wear contact lenses.
If you’re interested in learning more about our continuous wear contact lenses, head over here to find a range of options. Alternatively, head back to our contact lens page for more information on what option is best for you.
Continuous (extended) wear lenses
Waking up with instantly clear vision is great; as is the convenience of not having to remove your lenses after a long day. Unfortunately, regular daily contact lenses aren’t suitable for continuous wear. Though good for the daytime, they don’t actually allow enough oxygen to pass through when the eyelids are closed which can result in a range of problems, such as blurred vision and infections.
Continuous wear contact lenses, also known as night and day lenses, are thinner and made from silicone hydrogel , a technologically advanced lens material that allows more oxygen into the eye.1 This oxygen permeability or ‘breathability’ is important when you’re going to leave the contacts in for a long time because a lack of adequate oxygen makes the cornea susceptible to infection and inflammation.1 As a result of their enhanced oxygen transmission, continuous wear contact lenses can be worn overnight, for up to seven days, or even longer with some types.
Are continuous wear contact lenses the right choice for me?
Continuous wear contact lenses are ideal for people who wear contacts for a long time every day. They save the time and hassle of putting on and taking out the lenses, as well as cleaning and storing them every day. This is a considerable advantage if you lead a busy, unpredictable life. They are also a good choice if you spend a great deal of time outdoors without an opportunity for proper lens care.
This lens type can also benefit individuals with binocular vision problems, like amblyopia, where there’s a need for continuous vision correction.1 People with exceptionally poor vision and high prescription numbers may also find them useful because they provide vision correction at all times.
Are continuous wear contact lenses safe?
Continuous wear lenses are designed to be worn continuously. However, they do carry a risk of infection, which can lead to serious problems, such as an increased risk of neovascularisation (formation of new blood vessels) that occurs in response to the reduced availability of oxygen.1
To use continuous wear contact lenses safely, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s and optician’s instructions exactly. You must remove them according to the recommended schedule (every seven days, every month, or as directed) for cleaning and/or replacement. And, of course, you should never wear expired contacts.
If you already wear continuous wear lenses, and they’ve dried out, it’s best to pick up a new pair to avoid irritation and injury to the eyes. If you’re experiencing a gritty feeling, remove them and rinse them out in cleaning solution before re-inserting them. If the irritation persists, visit your GP or optician as soon as possible.
How long can you wear continuous wear contact lenses?
Some day and night contact lenses can be worn for six nights and seven days in a row. Others can be worn continuously for a month . Besides your lifestyle and preferences, your optician will help you decide which lens option is best for you. This will depend on how tolerant your eyes are to overnight lens wear, and there may be an initial adjustment period in which your eyes will need to be monitored to make sure the continuous wear contact lenses are appropriate for you.
Even though some continuous wear contact lenses are approved to be worn 30 days in a row, it may not be appropriate for you to wear them this long without a break. Your optician may recommend a shorter, customised schedule for you. It’s important to always follow this schedule and never leave the contacts in longer than recommended.
How do you keep continuous wear contact lenses hygienic?
To reduce the risk of irritation, inflammation, and infection, it’s a good idea to remove even continuous wear contacts before sleeping, whenever possible. This gives the eyes a chance to ‘breathe’ and absorb the oxygen necessary for good eye health. Always wash your hands before handling contacts, and try to avoid smoke, dust, and dry air environments as much as possible. And, don’t forget to remove the day and night contacts before you go swimming. If you need to remove your continuous wear contacts, store them safely in a lens case with the recommended cleaning/storing solution.
Can you shower with continuous wear contact lenses?
The biggest advantage of night and day contact lenses is that they’re exceptionally convenient. They are designed to be worn continuously, which is true for most situations. However, it may be best to avoid showering with these lenses in. Shower water contains bacteria, and if you wear them while showering, you may be putting yourself at a greater risk of eye infections.2 To play it completely safe, you should avoid showering with any type of contacts, including continuous wear ones.
- Cooper Vision. (no date). Extended Wear Contact Lenses. [Online]. Available at: https://coopervision.com/about-contacts/extended-wear-contact-lenses [Accessed 18 October 2019].
- Perfect Lens Canada. (no date). The Truth About Showering with Contact Lenses. [Online]. Available at: https://www.perfectlens.ca/articles/truth-about-showering-with-contact-lenses [Accessed 18 October 2019].