Contact lenses and lifestyle
Everyone has unique visual requirements according to their lifestyle, occupational and leisure needs. To reflect this, there are different types of contact lenses with a variety of lens replacement and wearing schedules, each offering their own advantages.
Daily disposable soft lenses
If you're looking for a simple and convenient way of correcting your eyesight, daily disposable contact lenses offer many benefits. These soft lenses are worn for a day and then thrown away – there is no need for solutions to clean and store them. Only wearing the lenses for a day reduces the exposure of the eyes to debris that can build up on the lens with time and avoids any sensitivity to contact lens solutions. In fact, these lenses are considered to be one of the safest and most trouble-free contact lens options provided they are worn only for single use and daily wear.
Daily Disposable lenses are especially convenient and cost-effective if you want to wear contact lenses part time – in fact, they're ideal for sport, going out and occasional wear, or for use when travelling. They can, however, be more expensive than other lens types of lenses especially if worn every day, although you will make a saving on solutions costs.
Two-weekly/monthly replacement soft lenses
These soft contact lenses are worn on a daily wear basis and changed every two weeks or every month. You must remove them each night, clean and store them using the solutions recommended by your eyecare practitioner. They're the most common type of soft lens fitted in the UK and have many advantages. Re-usable lenses offer all the benefits of soft lenses and are more cost-effective than daily disposables for those who wear their lenses every day or almost every day. They're also available in a wide range of materials, fittings, powers and designs.
To get the best from your lenses and wear them as comfortably and safely as possible, two-weekly and monthly lenses must be replaced strictly to the schedule recommended and should only be used as directed by your contact lens practitioner.
Other replacement schedules for soft lenses
Longer replacement intervals for soft contact lenses are less common although some speciality and custom-made lenses are only available for three-monthly, six-monthly or annual replacement. The lenses must be removed each night and cleaned with the solutions recommended by your eyecare practitioner, who will also advise you on the correct replacement and wearing schedule.
Extended/continuous wear soft lenses
Contact lenses that can be left in the eye for up to a month without removal, and with minimal lens handling and cleaning, are another simple and convenient way of correcting your eyesight. There have been several attempts to develop these lenses in both soft and rigid gas permeable materials. The advent of highly permeable silicone hydrogels, designed for up to 30 nights of extended or continuous wear, has led to renewed interest in this type of lens wear.
However, sleeping in contact lenses overnight increases the risk of an infection, irrespective of lens type. Your eyecare practitioner may suggest daily wear or a shorter wearing time depending on your individual needs. You should never sleep with your lenses on the eye unless specifically advised to by your practitioner. You'll need to follow instructions carefully and regular check-ups are especially important. If your lifestyle, occupation or leisure activities mean that you need flexible wearing schedules or long hours of daily wear, these lenses may be appropriate. Again your practitioner will advise you.
Gas permeable lenses
Gas permeable rigid contact lenses are generally used for daily wear and require daily cleaning and storage with the solutions recommended by your eyecare practitioners. Some practitioners believe gas permeable lenses provide a healthier option for long-term full-time wear than soft contact lenses. They are better at correcting irregularly shaped eyes than soft lenses and are more durable, so are usually replaced every six or 12 months.
Gas permeable lenses are easy to handle and are suitable for most lifestyles although soft lenses are usually preferred for sport. Gas Permeable contact lenses also require diligent cleaning and storing to ensure maximum comfort during lens wear and continued good eye health.