In this article, we discuss whether disposable contacts can be reused. Furthermore, we also discuss the various risks associated with reusing disposable contacts from a health aspect.
can you reuse disposable contacts?
No, you cannot reuse disposable contacts. As the name suggests, once they have been used for the specified period, they become less efficient in providing aid to the user’s vision.
Furthermore, there are also chances of infection to the eye if these lenses are used for an extended period of time, thereby adversely affecting your health.
What are disposable contact lenses
Disposable contact lenses are single-use lenses that are removed and discarded at the end of each day and replaced with a new pair the next morning.
The health and convenience benefits of contact lenses are gaining favour among practitioners and consumers. Before you analyse the benefits and drawbacks of disposable lenses, bear the following in mind:
- Don’t get the terms “daily wear” and “daily disposable” mixed up. Because it is not FDA approved for extended (overnight) usage, a daily wear lens must be removed before sleeping.
Depending on the brand, such a lens may be updated daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. In a nutshell, the wearing schedule and the replacement timetable are not the same.
- “Disposable” does not always imply “single-use” in the field of contact lenses. Disposable lenses are those that are used daily and discarded every two weeks.
The term “daily disposable” refers to lenses that are removed and discarded on a daily basis.
How Long Can I Wear My Disposable Contact Lenses?
The disposable contact lenses are only meant to be used for one day. They’re a single-use lens that’s not meant to be resistant to germs, bacteria, or other gunk that accumulates on the lens over time.
These lenses are frequently marketed in big bulk boxes containing 30-180 lenses. Disposable contacts are substantially thinner than regular contacts, making them more comfortable and breathable.
Many users try to “extend” the life of these lenses by washing them with a disinfectant solution and wearing them for many days, if not weeks. The lens is not composed of a matrix that permits bacteria and other microorganisms to be cleaned away.
The cleaning technique for these lenses is inefficient and actively tears down the lens, increasing the danger of the lens coming apart while in the eye.
A disposable lens resembles a paper plate in appearance. It is exceedingly thin, yet when a plate of food is placed on it, the food particles are absorbed deeply into the material rather than remaining on the surface.
Running it through the dishwasher won’t give you the desired result of reusing it. The danger of infection and consequences is not worth the few bucks saved. disposable contacts are intended to be discarded after each usage.
Issues related to reusing contacts beyond their recommended schedule
Reusing contacts beyond their recommended schedule can lead to these issues:
- Eye infection
- Dry eyes
- Corneal ulceration and scarring
- Visual impairment and possible blindness
Optometry and Vision Science, the journal of the American Academy of Optometry, published research that looked into disposable contact lenses that were kept after one usage and stored overnight.
According to the data, 95 percent of users had at least one pair of lenses infected with germs such as staphylococci (out of five in a month).
This study shows that overnight storage of contact lenses can result in bacterial growth, which can lead to significant eye infections if the lenses are put back in the eye.
Disposable contacts don’t let oxygen into the eye and don’t keep moisture effectively. This can result in severe dry eyes, corneal scarring, and hence reduced vision, possibly necessitating a corneal transplant.
Keratitis, a bacterial infection that damages the cornea, is one of the most serious possible concerns for eye infections caused by inappropriate contact lens usage. The cornea is the transparent front layer of the eye.
Keratitis is a corneal infection that may make your eyes red and inflamed, tear, and pain. In severe situations, it can cause impaired vision, sensitivity to light, and even blindness.
Infectious keratitis can be caused by wearing contact lenses too regularly or for longer than advised, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Daily usage contacts are among the safest forms of contacts since they are removed each night to allow for normal oxygenation of the eyes.
By reducing the chance of bacterial accumulation, Disposable contacts can dramatically lower the risk of infection. Disposable contacts do not require cleaning or disinfection, which makes them more convenient.
The majority of contact lens problems are caused by poor cleanliness or incorrect usage. Follow your doctor’s instructions for how often to change and replace contact lenses if you use them.
When dealing with reusable daily contacts, clean them carefully and change the disinfecting solution as indicated. Before contacting the contacts or your eyes, wash your hands and dispose of the contacts promptly.
Resist the impulse to utilise your contacts outside of their designated time frames. This will provide the best possible eye health.
How to safely recycle your daily contact lenses
Once you are done with the usage of your daily contact lenses, it is ideal to get rid of them in a manner which ensures that there is zero pollution in this process.
Daily contacts are made of plastics. In the current world scenario, plastic is one of the biggest contributors to pollution, for developed as well as developing nations.
Therefore, in order to ensure that a sustainable practice is followed, it is vital to ensure that your daily contact lenses are disposed of in a safe manner which can ensure that they will be recycled.
When it comes to disposing your contact lenses, these are the following things one should keep in mind while doing so:
- Don’t flush them in the toilet
- Don’t mix contact lenses with the rest of your garbage
- Don’t put contact lenses in the recycling bin
- ONE by ONE program
We discuss these in more detail below.
Don’t flush them in the toilet
Contact lenses are worn by an estimated 45 million people in the United States. According to one research, millions of folks who use contacts may be fouling our rivers.
In a 2018 survey of contact lens wearers conducted by Arizona State University, it was shown that 15-20% of them were dumping their old contacts down the toilet or rinsing them down the sink drain.
The researchers estimated that 1.8 billion to 3.36 billion lenses would be flushed annually on a nationwide scale. To put it another way, 20 to 23 metric tonnes of plastic garbage would end up in our wastewater every year.
Because contact lenses are medical equipment engineered to endure trauma, they don’t biodegrade quickly, according to the health website mindbodygreen.com.
Don’t mix contact lenses with the rest of your garbage
Expired yoghurt and other abandoned food, grass clippings and other yard garbage, worn-out appliances, and tired-looking furniture don’t belong in the same trash bag.
According to Mindbodygreen.com, putting contact lenses in your regular garbage means that plastic won’t end up in our water systems, but it will still end up in a landfill. It’s the equivalent of flushing your contact lenses.
Don’t put contact lenses in the recycling bin
Contact lenses should not be recycled with bottles, cans, or other recyclables in your home.
Recycling facilities often cannot process contact lenses due to their size and packaging materials, thus they are redirected to landfills, according to mindbodygreen.com.
There is, however, a technique to recycle the plastic blister packs in which your contacts are packaged.
Mental Floss suggests placing empty blister packs inside plastic bottles and then tossing them in the recycling bin once the bottles have been filled. But don’t forget to remove the blister packs’ wrapper before stuffing them into the plastic bottles.
ONE by ONE program
After you’ve gathered your old contacts, blister packs, and foil, you have two options for recycling:
- Bring the garbage to a nearby optometrist’s practise. Find a local optometry office that participates in the contact lens recycling programme. Drop-off sites are currently unavailable in Alaska and Hawaii.
- It should be sent to TerraCycle. If you want to ship your garbage, you’ll put it in a sealed cardboard box and drop it off at a UPS facility or arrange for a pickup from your home.
You don’t have to wash your contact lens trash before recycling it, but you should make sure the blister packs are dry.
Bausch and Lomb, one of the major sellers of contact lenses, follow a strict protocol in which contact lenses and blister packs are separated and cleaned once received.
One should not reuse daily contact lenses. This is because extensive usage of such lenses causes them to wear down and thereby be ineffective to improve the user’s vision.
Furthermore, these lenses can be exposed to certain microorganisms which can end up causing eye infections such as keratosis, and so on.
There are many methods to recycle your daily contact lenses. Many manufacturers such as Bausch and Lomb recollect these lenses, and other organisations such as TerraCycle which recycle plastics.
However, one should refrain from discarding lenses in a reckless manner, such as flushing it down the drain, throwing it with regular garbage, and dumping in the recycling bin.
Can I take a nap with contact lenses in my eyes?
No, you should not take a nap while having your contact lenses on. The general rule is that wearing contact lenses while napping or sleeping is not a good idea.
Unless otherwise stated, this applies to all contact lens brands and kinds. If you fall asleep wearing your contact lenses, you risk infection and discomfort.
Can I swim with contact lenses?
Although contact lenses should not be exposed to any sort of water, swimming while wearing contacts can be particularly risky owing to the prolonged exposure.
Water can be absorbed by the lenses, trapping germs, viruses, and other pathogens against your eye.
Can I cry with contact lenses?
It’s okay to cry while wearing contacts as long as you don’t touch your eyes. Rubbing or cleaning one of your eyes might cause your contact lens to wrinkle or fold, dislodge it from the cornea, and become caught beneath the upper eyelid.
What is an advantage of daily contact lenses?
One disadvantage of regular contact lenses is that they need to be cleaned regularly, which is a task that can cause a lot of hassle.
Many eye doctors and contact lens wearers believe they provide the best of both worlds: they are handy since no lens cleaning is necessary, and they are healthful because there is no daily accumulation of lens deposits and no overnight wear.
- Kates MM, Tuli S. Complications of Contact Lenses. JAMA. 2021;325(18):1912. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.20328
- American Optometric Association. Facts and Stats. (August 2017).
- American Optometric Association. Eye Infections From Contact Lenses.
- American Optometric Association. How to Take Care of Contact Lenses.
- Mayo Clinic. Keratitis.
- NVISION. CAN DAILY CONTACTS BE WORN MORE THAN ONCE? (WHAT DOCTORS SAY).
- All About Vision. Daily contact lenses: How long can you wear them?
- All About Vision. Daily disposable contact lenses: pros and cons.