At Zacks Eye Clinic in central London we see several patients who benefit from extended wear contact lenses.
What are extended wear contact lenses?
Extended wear contact lenses usually refer to super permeable, silicone hydrogel, soft disposable lenses that have been designed especially for continuous wear. Most silicone hydrogel lenses have approval for up to 7 days of continuous wear, though some can be worn for up to 30 days. Conventional soft lenses are not safe for extended continuous wear.
‘I have a very high prescription and I am so happy with my new contact lenses’
Some rigid gas permeable lenses (RGP) also have approval for up to 30 days of continuous wear. Whilst extended RGP wear is less common, RGP lenses actually allow more oxygen to the eye than their soft counterparts and have a lower risk of infection.
Advantages of extended wear contact lenses
Extended wear contact lenses are beneficial for people with very busy lifestyles and those with handling difficulties who are unable to insert and remove contact lenses. They are extremely convenient and appeal to many people who don’t like fumbling for a pair of glasses in the middle of the night.
Disadvantages of extended wear contact lenses
Not everyone can tolerate extended wear contact lenses as with an increased wearing time comes increased problems with dryness, irritation, allergy and binding. However, the biggest disadvantage is that they carry a significantly increased risk of infection (by around 4 times).
Extended wear and aftercare
To ensure safe wear when starting out with extended wear contact lenses, careful monitoring during the first few weeks is essential. When the fitting is complete, even longstanding wearers should attend frequently for regular aftercare appointments.
The success of any contact lens is dependent on appropriate use by the wearer and it is, therefore, very important to adhere to the wearing times and replacement schedule that are recommended. All contact lens wearers should pay attention to the comfort of their lenses, the appearance of their eyes and the quality of their vision. If you experience any problems such as redness, pain or blurred vision, you should remove your lenses immediately and contact us.
It is also important to have an up-to-date pair of glasses for periodic breaks and when you need to remove the contact lenses, such as when your eyes are irritated, or when you feel unwell.