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How Long Are Contact Prescriptions Good For

by Dan Hughes
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How Long Are Contact Prescriptions Good For

How Long Are Contact Prescriptions Good For

Contact lenses can be the difference between life and death. They allow us to see clearly while also protecting our eyes from UV rays. But what happens when we lose or break them? Do we have to throw out all of our old lenses and start over with new ones? In most cases, no. As long as you still need contact lenses, you can simply replace them at any time. You don’t even have to go through a whole eye-examining process. The FDA recommends that you do not use expired contacts. However, it’s important to note that this varies by state. A few states require that your old lenses be thrown away after a certain amount of time, usually 12 months. Other states will only require that your old lenses be disposed properly, such as taking them to a pharmacy. Still other states won’t even give you a hard and fast deadline for disposing of your old lenses. So how much time are expired lenses good for before being tossed? We’ll discuss below.
Expiration Dates And Contact Lens Expiration Dates
Every product — including food, medicine, cosmetics, cleaning products, toys, etc. — has its own “use by” or “best before” dates. This is because products degrade over time. This degradation isn’t necessarily bad (as long as they’re safe), but manufacturers generally put these dates on their packaging to let customers know when they should be disposed of. While most people understand this concept, some consumers aren’t sure about the expiration dates for contact lens solutions. What exactly does “expires” mean? How long are contact prescriptions valid for?
The term “expiration date,” or “expiry date,” refers to the date on which the product becomes unsafe or otherwise unusable. Usually, expiry dates are written on labels and/or packaging. These dates vary per country, region, manufacturer, and type of product. Generally, the sooner you dispose of your product, the better. It’s important to keep in mind that expiry dates are guidelines rather than hard and fast rules. There are instances where a product could last longer than normal, such as when the manufacture made special accommodations for a particular batch. Also, your physician could write an exemption onto your prescription if there is a documented medical reason for doing so.
When Is Expired Contacts No Longer Safe To Use?
You’ve probably heard the saying that everything must come to an end sometime. That includes contact lenses, too. Fortunately, most expired contact lenses can still be used safely. Here are some helpful tips on how to handle your old contacts:
If your prescription expires within one year, take it to your eye care provider. Most health insurance providers cover the cost of getting your expiring contacts replaced. Check with yours to make sure.
Try to avoid throwing out your expired lenses. Many pharmacies and optometrists accept expired lenses, especially those that were prescribed by doctors. Your local health department might also offer disposal services. Call around until you find someone who accepts expired lenses.
Don’t buy cheaper generic brands. Cheap contact lenses often contain chemicals that differ greatly from brand to brand. Some generic brands may not even include preservatives; therefore, you risk causing damage to your eyes.
Be careful when using disposable lenses. Although they seem like less expensive options, they can actually cause more problems than reusable lenses. Read on to learn why.
To prolong the lifespan of your lenses, try storing them correctly. Store them in a dark, dry location. Avoid putting them near cigarettes or scented products because these substances can cause discoloration.
Do NOT clean your lenses in tap water! Cleaning your lenses in tap water can cause eye infections and other serious complications. Always follow the instructions provided by your eye care professional.
So now you know how long expired lenses are considered safe to use. Next, read on to discover whether you should wear soft contact lenses or gas permeable (GPS) contact lenses past their expiration dates.
Lenses that expire within one year can be safely reused according to the following schedule:
1 month – 2 weeks
2 months – 1 week
3 months – 1 day
4 months – 1 week
5 months – 1 day
6 months – 1 week
7 months – 1 day
8 months – 1 week
9 months – 1 day
10 months – 1 week
11 months – 1 day
12 months – 1 week
What Kind Of Lenses Should I Wear Past Their Expiration Date?
After reading the above section about when expired lenses are considered safe, you may wonder whether you should continue wearing soft contact lenses or gas permeable (GPS) contact lenses past their expiration dates. After all, if expired lenses are perfectly fine to use, then why bother changing them? Well, here are a couple of reasons why you shouldn’t just toss out your expired lenses and get new ones:
Soft lenses tend to become misshapen and foggy over time, and this affects vision significantly. Even worse, bacteria may grow inside the lens case, leading to infection.
Because of their high water content, GPS lenses can absorb moisture and swell up. Swollen lenses can cause corneal irritation and pain, along with blurry vision.
One common myth is that you can save your worn-out lenses in order to reuse them later. Unfortunately, this is untrue. Once your lenses become worn down, it takes approximately three days for them to completely disintegrate. During that time, bacteria and fungi may begin growing in your lenses. Wearing these lenses can lead to eye infections.
Some older patients experience increased sensitivity to their medications when wearing lenses. Therefore, you may want to consider speaking with your doctor before continuing to wear your expired lenses.
Whether you choose to wear soft or GPS lenses past their expiration dates depends largely on your personal preferences. Discuss the pros and cons with your optometrist or ophthalmologist first.
According to the National Eye Institute, 20 percent of Americans age 40 and older wear contact lenses. Another study showed that 38 percent of adults aged 18 to 64 had been fitted for corrective eyeglasses.

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