Dr. Shonah Finlay Doctors Eye Care
Blog Hero

Do Contact Lenses Expire? 

Request an Appointment
A woman with black painted nails balances a contact lens on the index finger of her left hand. A mirror reflects this image.

Contact lenses are a popular vision correction option for people who want to avoid the inconvenience of wearing glasses. They offer greater flexibility and unobstructed vision, and can be aesthetically pleasing for many individuals. 

However, contact lenses have an expiration date, which is crucial for your eye health. This date is usually printed on the packaging of the lenses and it indicates when they should no longer be used. The expiration date ensures that the lenses maintain their integrity, sterility, and comfort. 

Reasons for Expiration

There are several reasons why contact lenses have an expiration date:

  • Hygiene: As with any medical device, it is important to maintain proper hygiene when using contact lenses. After a certain amount of time, the lenses can accumulate bacteria and other microorganisms that can harm your eyes. This is especially true for soft contact lenses, which are made of porous materials that can trap bacteria.
  • Material Breakdown: Over time, the material of contact lenses can start to break down due to exposure to various elements such as water, tears, and proteins in the eye. This can cause the lenses to become less smooth and more prone to irritation, making them uncomfortable to wear.
  • Preservatives: Some contact lenses contain preservatives to prevent bacteria growth. However, these preservatives can also break down over time, rendering the lenses ineffective and potentially harmful to your eyes. 

Consequences of Wearing Expired Contact Lenses

Wearing expired contact lenses may seem harmless, but it can seriously affect your eye health. Some of the potential risks include:

  • Eye Infections: Contact lenses can accumulate bacteria and other microorganisms over time. Wearing expired lenses increases the risk of developing a serious eye infection, such as conjunctivitis or keratitis.
  • Corneal Ulcers: When bacteria or fungi from expired lenses get trapped under the lens, they can cause a corneal ulcer. These are open sores on the surface of the eye that can be painful and may lead to permanent vision damage if left untreated.
  • Irritation and Discomfort: As contact lenses start to break down, they can become rougher and less comfortable to wear. This can lead to irritation, redness, and even scratches on the cornea.
  • Reduced Vision: Wearing expired contact lenses can also affect your vision. As the lenses become less smooth and accumulate deposits, they may blur your vision or cause halos around lights.
  • Allergic Reactions: Some people may develop allergic reactions to expired contact lenses, especially if they contain preservatives or other chemicals. This can cause symptoms such as redness, itching, and watery eyes.
  • Permanent Eye Damage: In rare cases, wearing expired contact lenses can lead to permanent eye damage or even vision loss. This is more likely to occur if you have a pre-existing eye condition or if the expired lenses are not properly cleaned and disinfected before use.

How to Prevent These Risks

An optometrist holds a contact lens case while her patient practices inserting a contact lens with her right index finger.

To avoid these potential risks, it is important to properly care for and replace your contact lenses according to the recommended schedule. Here are some tips for preventing eye problems related to expired lenses:

  • Follow Your Eye Doctor’s Instructions: Your eye doctor will give you specific instructions on how often to replace your contact lenses based on your needs. It is important to follow these instructions and not wait until your lenses have expired before replacing them.
  • Store Your Lenses Properly: Keep your contact lenses in a clean case with fresh solution. Avoid using tap water or saliva to clean your lenses, as this can introduce bacteria that can lead to infections.
  • Avoid Sleeping in Your Lenses: Sleeping in your contact lenses, especially expired ones, can increase your risk of eye problems. Make sure to remove and properly clean your lenses before going to bed.
  • Pay Attention to Expiration Dates: Always check the expiration date on your contact lens packaging and replace them when they expire. This is especially important for daily disposable lenses, as they should not be worn past their expiration date.
  • Take Note of Any Changes in Your Vision: If you experience any discomfort, redness, or vision changes while wearing your contact lenses, remove them immediately and consult your eye doctor. These could be signs of a potential problem that needs to be addressed.

Contact Lens Care & Finding Your Ideal Fit at Doctors EyeCare Grand Prairie

While contact lenses are a convenient and effective way to correct vision, they do come with some risks. By properly caring for your lenses and following the recommended replacement schedule, you can reduce your chances of developing eye problems related to expired or ill-fitting lenses. Always consult with an eye doctor if you experience any discomfort or changes in your vision while wearing contacts. 

At Doctors EyeCare Grande Prairie, our team can provide you with personalized advice and guidance on how to properly care for your contact lenses and find the ideal solution for your vision needs. Get in touch with us today to schedule a comprehensive eye exam and find the right contact lenses for you. Let us help you see the world clearly and comfortably with contact lenses!

Written by Dr. Shonah Finlay

Dr. Finlay grew up by the gold mines in South Africa and knew from a young age she wanted to follow a medically related career. She applied to and was accepted to study optometry at the former Rand Afrikaans University in South Africa. During her last year of studies, Dr. Finlay worked on the Train of Hope: South Africa’s Phelophepa. This custom-built train (now 2) travels throughout rural South Africa to deliver top-quality primary healthcare to disadvantaged communities. It was a wonderful experience to bring sight to so many people that otherwise do without. Those memories always remind her of why she loves practicing optometry.
instagram facebook facebook2 pinterest twitter google-plus google linkedin2 yelp youtube Tiktok phone location calendar share2 link star-full star star-half chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up envelope fax