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Why Do Contact Lenses Expire?

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What’s the problem with wearing out-of-date contact lenses?

Many of us try to make things last as long as possible, primarily as an effort to save money. Contact lenses are no exception. Contacts can be costly, and holding on to them longer than recommended can feel like an economically responsible decision. What’s the problem with doing this?

While our eye doctors in Troy, Luverne, Enterprise and Ozark, understand the financial temptation many patients have to wear contact lenses that are past their expiration date, we strongly discourage this practice! You may save a few bucks, but it could cost you your vision.

The definition of “expired” contact lenses

When we discuss contact lenses that have “expired,” it doesn’t mean that the lenses themselves have spoiled. They may have dried up slightly, but that’s not the danger. Contamination is the real risk.

When contact lenses are manufactured, they are kept in a sterile environment. Once the production process is complete, they are packed in a blister pack and covered with a saline solution.

Years ago, contact lenses were stored in hard glass vials. However, that system was eventually changed because it was both space- and cost-prohibitive. Also, glass breaks easily, so the packaging posed a safety hazard. Once the industry moved to plastic packets, these problems were solved – but as a result, the shelf-life of contact lenses was reduced. That’s because the seal of a blister pack only lasts a few years.

Risks of wearing expired contact lenses

After contacts have spent about four years in storage, natural deterioration leads to a loosening of the package seal. As soon as the integrity of this seal is compromised, oxygen can get in, and bacteria can form and multiply on the contact lenses. When you remove the contacts and put them on your eyeball, you’re effectively inserting a tiny petri dish into your eye. The bacteria transfer easily to your eye and begin to breed there.

Our eye doctor has performed many urgent eye exams on patients who developed nasty, painful eye infections from wearing contact lenses past their wear-by-date.

For example, one particularly aggressive eye infection is caused by pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that commonly grows on contacts. It spreads rapidly and can lead to a hole in your eye, causing permanent vision loss.

Stay safe – buy new contact lenses from an eye doctor near me

The next time you notice that the expiration date on your contacts has passed, toss them.

Saving a few dollars isn’t worth taking risks with your vision.

Contact an eye clinic near me, we’re located conveniently in Troy, Luverne, Enterprise and Ozark, to schedule a contact lenses eye exam. Before you buy new lenses, we’ll check your eye health and vision thoroughly to confirm your prescription is still accurate and your eyes are in good shape. Then, we’ll provide a new prescription, so you can purchase the right contact lenses from our full inventory of premium brands.

At Family Eye & Laser, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 334-697-3100 or book an appointment online to see one of our Troy eye doctors.

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