Buyer’s Guide to Disposable Contact Lenses: Everything You Need to Know

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From the moment you begin wearing a new pair of contact lenses, proteins, lipids and other substances occurring naturally in your tear film begin adhering to the surface of your lenses. These lens deposits clog the pores of your lenses and reduce the supply of oxygen to the cornea, which can affect the health of your eyes. Lens deposits also attract bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause serious eye infections. Dirty contact lenses can also cause a bothersome allergic-like inflammation of the inner surface of the eyelids called giant papillary Conjunctivitis (GPC).

Daily Lens Cleaning Is Not Enough

Even with proper daily lens cleaning, contact lenses gradually become covered with lens deposits that affect lens comfort, visual acuity and eye health.  And surveys show that most contact lens wearers fail to consistently clean their lenses as directed.

Reduced Manufacturing Costs Make Disposable Lenses Possible

In the 1980s, advances in contact lens fabrication technology enabled lens manufacturers to produce soft contact lenses at a greatly reduced cost.  This new efficiency led to the introduction of the first disposable soft contact lenses in 1987.  Today, you can purchase a 6-pack of disposable soft contact lenses for less than the cost of a single conventional contact lens.  Because of their affordability and convenience, most contact lenses sold in the U.S. are now disposable lenses.

Wear ‘Em, Then Toss ‘Em

Disposable contact lenses are designed to be worn for a specific period of time, then discarded and replaced with a fresh pair of lenses.  Replacing lenses frequently reduces the risk of eye discomfort, blurred vision and contact lens-related eye infections. 

The recommended replacement period for disposable lenses can range from a single day to one month.  (One-month disposable lenses are sometimes referred to as planned replacement lenses.)

Some disposable contact lenses are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for daily wear only.  These lenses must be removed before sleep.  Other disposable lenses are approved for extended wear (up to 30 days of continuous day and night wear).  Extended wear lenses can also be worn on a flexible wear (FW) basis.  Flexible wear refers to wearing lenses primarily on a daily wear basis, with only occasional overnight wear.

1-Day Disposable Lenses

One-day disposable lenses offer the ultimate in cleanliness and convenience. These lenses are designed to be worn just one day, then discarded. One-day lenses eliminate the need for daily lens cleaning.

Popular 1-Day Disposable Contact Lenses

Lens NameManufacturerWear Schedule
1-DAY ACUVUE MOISTJohnson & JohnsonDaily wear
Focus DailiesCIBA VISIONDaily wear
SofLens Daily DisposableBausch + LombDaily wear

1-2 Week Disposable Lenses

Most disposable lenses have a 1-2 week replacement schedule.  Typically these lenses should be replaced after one week of extended wear or two weeks of daily wear.  (Lenses approved only for a daily wear should not be worn overnight.)  When removed before sleep, 1-2 week disposable lenses should be cleaned and disinfected with an appropriate soft contact lens care product.

Popular 1-2 Week Disposable Contact Lenses

Lens NameManufacturerWear Schedule
ACUVUE OASYSJohnson & JohnsonExtended wear
ACUVUE 2Johnson & JohnsonExtended wear
Biomedics 38Ocular SciencesExtended wear
Biomedics 55Ocular SciencesExtended wear
Frequency 55CooperVisionExtended wear
Vertex SphereCooperVisionExtended wear
SofLens 38Bausch + LombExtended wear
O2 OptixCIBA VISIONDaily wear
SofLens 59Bausch + LombDaily wear

1-Month Disposable Lenses

The following lenses are recommended for monthly replacement.  Included in this group is the Focus Night & Day lens (CIBA Vision), which is the only disposable lens currently sold in the U.S. that is approved for up to 30 days of extended wear.

Popular 1-Month Disposable Contact Lenses

Lens NameManufacturerWear Schedule
Focus Night & DayCIBA VISIONExtended wear
Focus Monthly VisitintCIBA VISIONExtended wear
Proclear MultifocalCooperVisionDaily wear

Other Disposable Lenses

Disposable lenses are also available in special designs to correct astigmatism (toric lenses), correct presbyopia (bifocal and multifocal lenses), and change the color of your eyes. To learn more about these lenses, check out toric lenses, multifocal lenses, and colored contact lenses.

Choosing the Right Wearing Time and Replacement Schedule

Your eye doctor will evaluate your eyes and determine the proper contact lens wearing time and replacement schedule to keep your eyes comfortable and healthy.  Depending on environmental conditions and other factors (e.g. seasonal allergies), you may find it necessary at times to replace your lenses more frequently than normal.

If you ever experience discomfort or blurred vision while wearing disposable contact lenses, remove and clean the lenses or discard them.  If problems persist with new lenses, remove the lenses and see your eye doctor immediately.