How Many Times Can I Wear My Contacts Before Replacing Them?

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Contact lens manufacturers take all the guesswork out of determining how long each lens can be worn: Look right on the box, where the lifespan is clearly spelled out. Done, question answered.

But for reasons of frugality, laziness, curiosity or our unwavering desire to push the human body to its limits, many people have their own interpretation of those guidelines, wearing lenses for days or weeks beyond their suggested expiration date.

So what’s the deal: Are these rebels slowly going blind, or beating the system?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, these “spirit-of-the-law” soldiers are fighting for the wrong side. Wearing contacts for longer than suggested and failing to clean them properly can lead to serious problems such as infectious keratitis and corneal ulcers, both of which are extremely painful and can cause blindness.

Even if the results aren’t that severe, giving your lenses an extended stay in your eyes will almost certainly lead to dryness and irritation from the accumulated debris, proteins and bacteria. Two other big no-nos: (1) Sleep with your contacts in; and (2) use the same case for more than three months at a time.

In other words, when it comes to contacts, it’s best to play by the rules—daily lens cleaning, regularly replacing the case and popping those puppies out before turning in for the night.

Save the feats of strength for a more worthy endeavor.