Why should I replace my contacts regularly?
I hear it almost daily. “Dr. Carlson, why should I replace my contacts regularly?” “They feel fine.” “I just replace them when they start to bug me.” “I know I should replace them every month but sometimes I just leave them in for a few months and I haven’t had any problems.” “You guys always tell me to replace my contacts every month. You just want more money!”
These are the words and actions of people that make eye doctors everywhere want to go and put everyone in single use lenses. So, why it is so important that you use and replace your contact lenses when recommended.
Contact lenses have silicone and plastic. They have pores or gaps in them to allow your eyes to breathe even while they are on the eye. Those pores can get clogged with material, like protein, lipids (fatty molecules), dust, dirt, debris, mucous, pollen, and bacteria. No matter how well you clean it those pores never fully open again. That means that not only does the contact lens get dirty, but the pores fill up and the contact doesn’t ‘breathe’ as well as it did before.
Contacts need to be replaced at different times depending on their material; which is why some contacts you use for a day, others for two weeks and others still for a month. Large amounts of research and testing goes into determining how long a contact lens is safe for you to use. This is an example of a contact lens coated with lipid deposits. Do you really want to keep putting something that look like that in your eye?
But what happens if you don’t get enough oxygen to your eye? What happens if you keep sticking a dirty, clogged up lens in there? The big, scary thing that can happen, what no one wants to see, is a bacterial ulcer. These things are nasty, and they can at best leave a really nasty scar. The result of that scar is loss of vision. The world doesn’t go black (you can still see) but don’t expect to see 20/20 again.
My family members all wear single use lenses. This greatly decreases the chances for lens abuse, infections and vision loss.
If you are one of those who have been lucky and have not had a problem yet, I remind you, those who have lost vision due to contact lens complications all used to say the same thing- until it happened to them.