Why Do Contact Lenses Expire?

Like most products, contact lenses are not meant to last forever. They come with an expiration date that should be followed so that you don’t compromise the health of your eyes. The lens packaging makes it really easy to abide by the expiration date, as it will note all of the essential information including the brand and manufacturer’s name. For instance, it may list the product name—as shown here with the widely popular Acuvue Oasys 6 pack contact lenses—as well as significant prescription information, and most importantly, their expiration date. This makes it very straightforward in avoiding any confusion as to when your contact lenses should be discarded.

Lens Packaging
One major reason why you should either wear or throw away your contact lenses away by the expiration date is due to the lens packaging. While in the packaging your lens is soaking in a saline solution in order to remain pliable and ready to use when needed. Over time, there’s a possibility that the casing could become punctured or damaged. If this solution were to become contaminated it could be harmful to your eye causing irritation or infection when inserted. So as a rule of thumb, you should discard any lens that has been encased in damaged packaging.

Stick to the Schedule
The potential risk of infection is not only for unopened contact lenses, but also for those in use. If you are not using daily disposable lenses then you should be on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly schedule. Although it may be tempting to continue use past the recommended timeframe, doing so increases the possibility for harmful irritants to build up on your lenses—even with a strict cleaning and disinfecting regimen. So even if your contact lenses feel comfortable and are not bothering your eyes, you should still follow your eye doctor’s guidelines and throw them away at the appropriate time.

Outdated Prescription
Another reason why you should discard any lens past the expiration date is because your vision may change over the course of a year, ultimately making your prescription outdated. Each year you should receive an eye exam to check your eye’s general health in addition to any changes in vision. Since there is the possibility that your vision can change, it is not wise to wear lenses once they expire which usually occurs within a year.

When it comes to the health of your eyes, it is best to take every precaution no matter how minor it may seem. Following the recommended expiration date provided by the manufacturer or your doctor for each lens is an easy way to protect your eyes and to be a responsible lens wearer. Although you may feel that there is a savings in reusing an expired contact lens, resist the urge as any perceived financial savings is not worth compromising the health of your eyes—it might even end up costing you more in the long run. Manufacturers like Johnson and Johnson have made it easy to replace your contact lenses by making them affordable and obtainable. For instance, the Acuvue Oasys contact lenses can purchased for as low as $67.50 for a 6 month supply (that’s less than $12 per month!) at a discount online contact lens retailer such as Lens.com.