Everything You Need to Know about Extended Wear Contact Lenses

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Extended wear (EW) contact lenses are lenses that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for overnight wear.  Extended wear lenses allow more oxygen to reach the wearer’s cornea than daily wear lenses and are therefore safer to wear when sleeping.

Benefits of Extended Wear Contact Lenses

Extended wear lenses offer the convenience of being able to wear contact lenses for several days without having to remove the lenses for daily cleaning and storage.  They also enable you to wake up and see clearly without having to search for your eyeglasses or spend time putting your contact lenses on each morning.

Extended wear contact lenses are also good alternative for people who want clear vision 24/7 but are not good candidates for LASIK vision correction surgery or are unwilling to undergo a surgical procedure.

Are Extended Wear Contact Lenses Safe?

Most extended wear lenses are approved for up to seven days of continuous wear.  But not everyone can wear extended wear lenses overnight safely and comfortably.  And wearing contact lenses while sleeping increases your risk of contact lens-related eye infections. 

If you are interested in using contact lenses on an extended wear basis, it’s important for you to consult with your eye doctor.  Your doctor can evaluate if you are a good candidate for extended wear lenses and determine a safe wearing schedule for your eyes.

Most extended wear lenses are disposable soft contact lenses that should be discarded after the wearing schedule your eye doctor recommends.  However, extended wear lenses are also available in rigid gas permeable (RGP) materials.  These hard lenses can be reused for significantly longer periods than disposable soft extended wear lenses.

30-Day Extended Wear Lenses

Recently, a new generation of extended wear soft contact lenses has been introduced that the FDA has approved for up to 30 days of continuous wear.  These new lenses are made of a super-permeable soft lens material that allows significantly more oxygen to pass through the lenses compared to 7-day extended wear lenses.

Just as some people cannot wear 7-day extended wear lenses comfortably and safely for a full week, not everyone can tolerate 30-day extended wear lenses for a full month of continuous wear.  Your eye doctor will help you determine the type of lens and wearing schedule that is safe for your eyes.

Flexible Wear

If you are unable to tolerate full-time continuous wear of extended wear lenses, flexible wear (FW) may be a safe and comfortable alternative.  “Flexible wear” is wearing extended wear contact lenses primarily on a daily wear basis (removing and cleaning them at the end of the day), with only occasional overnight wear.  This gives you the convenience of being able to nap with your lenses on or occasionally wear your lenses overnight, without the risks of longer periods of extended wear.

Popular Extended Wear Contact Lenses

Lens NameManufacturerMaterialMax Extended Wear
Focus Night & DayCIBA VISIONSoft30 days
ACUVUE OASYSJohnson & JohnsonSoft7 days
ACUVUE 2Johnson & JohnsonSoft7 days
Biomedics 55Ocular SciencesSoft7 days
SofLens 38Bausch + LombSoft7 days
Boston EqualensPolymer TechnologyRGP7 days