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Daily Disposable vs. Reusable Contact Lenses: The Pros and Cons of Both

If you wear contact lenses, your eyes will be more comfortable and healthy the more often you replace your lenses.  In this regard, daily disposable contact lenses can be, for many people, an excellent alternative to lenses that must be cleaned daily.   There are, however, advantages and disadvantages of daily disposable contact lenses as well as those that need to be cleaned daily and reused.

Most contact lenses are designed to be cleaned  daily and replaced weekly, monthly or quarterly, depending on the type of lens.    Lens cleaning, however, is not 100 percent effective.  Protein, calcium, lipids and other naturally occurring substances found in tears build up on contact lenses, making them less comfortable over time.   The buildup of these substances can also make the eyes more prone to infection.

Daily disposable contact lenses are used once, discarded at the end of the day, and replaced the following day with a fresh pair of lenses.  This prevents the buildup of tear-borne substances on the lenses, keeping the eyes healthier and more comfortable. Our patients who use these lenses love the convenience, but daily disposable contact lenses are not for everyone.

Daily disposables are available in single vision designs, and some brands are available in multifocal designs and those that correct astigmatism.  Some of these lenses are even available in colors.  However, some prescriptions are outside the range in which daily disposable lenses are produced.

Cost is another factor to consider when choosing contact lenses.  Daily disposable lenses have always been more expensive than reusable contact lenses, although newer manufacturing methods now produce high-quality lenses in greater quantities at lower costs.  The cost of daily disposable lenses varies widely, depending on the prescription, brand and type of material used.

Some people are very concerned about the impact of disposable products on our environment.  Contact lenses and blister packs can’t be recycled locally, but Bausch & Lomb offers a recycling program for these materials — even other brands of contact lenses — through a company called TerraCycle.  There are dropoff locations for these materials throughout the United States, including Connecticut and Massachusetts.  The cardboard boxes the lenses come in can be recycled in the usual manner.

Note:    Dr. Squillace does not recommend a third type of contact lens — extended-wear.  These lenses are designed to be worn continuously for several days then discarded.  Extended-wear contact lenses significantly increase the risk of  infection and other eye problems, such as ulcerations.  He only prescribes these lenses for patients in special circumstances — such as health care professionals working double shifts and emergency response professionals who are frequently on call.  Still, he cautions these patients on the risks of wearing extended-wear contact lenses.

There are many factors to consider when deciding to wear contact lenses and selecting the lens that’s right for you.  We are happy to answer any questions you may have about contact lenses.  E-mail us at somersvision@gmail.com.