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How Long Do Contact Lenses Last?

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Close-up of a woman’s left hand holding a contact lens.

You can get a lot out of your contact lenses. They offer clear vision without having to worry about frames sitting on your face—or falling off your face, as the case may be. However, they aren’t completely set-and-forget; eventually, you’ll have to replace your lenses.

How long contact lenses last depends on the type of lens. Daily disposable lenses are some of the most popular brands, and you must discard them every day, but some rigid lenses can last until you renew your prescription.

If you’re ever unsure, your optometrist can help you determine a replacement schedule.

Types of Contact Lenses

The most significant factor for how long your contact lenses last is what kind of lens you wear. There’s a lot more to contact lenses than meets the eye, but they typically fall into 2 major categories: soft contact lenses and rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses.

Soft Contact Lenses

Soft contact lenses are the most commonly worn lens. They’re made of flexible plastics and other materials that allow them to sit comfortably on the cornea, the eye’s clear front surface. In fact, most people find that soft contacts take less time to adapt to, making them an excellent choice for new contact lens wearers who are nervous about making the switch.

Depending on the type of soft contact lenses you choose, they can last anywhere from 1 day (sometimes called daily disposable lenses), to a week, or even a month.

Some soft contact lenses are extended-wear lenses designed to be worn for much longer than traditional soft contacts. They could be worn for several days before needing to be removed, cleaned, and reinserted. Depending on the brand, a single pair can last up to 30 days.

Health Canada has approved some of these lenses, but wearing contacts for too long can cause dry eyes and other eye health issues. In general, we don’t recommend sleeping while wearing contacts.

Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses

Although they can be less comfortable than soft contact lenses, RGP lenses offer better vision correction and durability. Some manufacturers have developed RGP lenses specifically designed for people with eye conditions that make wearing soft lenses difficult, such as astigmatism.

These contact lenses are made of durable plastics that allow oxygen to reach the cornea and can last 2–3 years with proper care. You’ll need to remove your RGP lenses every night so you can clean them with a solution to protect your eyes from infections.

Can Soft Contact Lenses Expire?

Even if you aren’t wearing your contacts, they have a shelf life. You should be able to find an expiration date on the box your contact lenses come in. They won’t curdle like milk after this date, but they are medical devices, and as such, they need to stay sterile. You don’t want to press a bowl full of bacteria against your eye, of course.

Manufacturers store soft contact lenses in sealed blister packs filled with a saline solution. This airtight seal protects lenses from bacteria. If the seal fails, contaminants can slip into the solution and allow bacteria to breed on the contacts. If your lenses are past the expiration date, tossing the box is a good idea.

Proper Care & Cleaning for Contact Lenses at Home

If you want to help your contact lenses last as long as they can, that starts with proper care and cleaning. Daily soft lenses are thrown out each night, so they’re generally safer for your eyes since bacteria have less of a chance to grow. But some people want the crisp vision offered by RGP lenses or prefer the longer wear schedule of other soft lenses. 

In this case, you must clean your contact lenses at the required intervals.

Before handling your contact lenses, always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and dry them with a lint-free cloth. This will help prevent the spread of bacteria and other harmful germs to your eyes.

After removing your lenses, use a contact lens solution specifically made for the type of lens you wear to clean, rinse, and store your lenses. Do not use tap water, saliva, or other solutions to clean your lenses, as these can spread dangerous bacteria. Instead, hold the contact lens in the palm of your hand, facing upward like a bowl. Then, apply your contact lens solution onto the lens and rub your lenses with clean fingers in a circular motion. Rinse them thoroughly with solution before putting the lenses into their storage cases.

Use fresh solution every time you clean your lenses and replace your case at least every 3 months.

A woman undergoing a slit-lamp exam.

We’ve Got Answers for Contact Lens Questions

We’re happy to explain how long your contact lenses last, but their longevity truly depends on how you care for them. Some disposable lenses last 1 day, 2 weeks, or a full month. RGP lenses could last years!

If you have questions about wearing contact lenses, the EyeCare Niagara team is ready to answer them. We can determine what type of contacts fit your lifestyle and needs. We’ve helped many within our community enjoy the benefits of contact lenses through our customer-focused mindset. Your eyes aren’t like anyone else’s, so we aren’t going to treat them as such. Book your comprehensive eye exam today and explore all that contact lenses have to offer.


Written by Dr. Douglas DenBak

Being born and raised in St. Catharines, Dr. DenBak takes great pride in caring for his community through his optometry practice. Dr. DenBak graduated from the University of Waterloo School of Optometry in 1998 and immediately returned to his hometown to begin honing his trade. Dr. DenBak is extremely passionate about his practice and spends his extra time refining it in terms of its operations and future.

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