Expired contact lenses – What you need to know.
If you are a regular contact lens user, you probably have gone through hundreds of boxes of contact lenses. You may not have noticed that the small printed numbers on your packaging tell you your eyewear has surpassed its expiration date. But does this matter?
Do contact lenses expire?
Contact lenses come in small packets filled with a sterile solution to help preserve their quality and protect your eyes from potential contaminants. However, contamination of this solution can occur with the accumulation of deposits in both sealed and unsealed packaging. Over time, these harmful deposits degrade the quality of your contact lens solution with the growth of bacteria, fungi, and other organisms responsible for eye infections. Suppose you find that the seal on your contact lens packaging is broken, please do not wear the lenses in that case, as harmful bacteria may have found their way into your lens solution. It is essential to find the expiration date on your box of contact lenses and discard them after the recommended date.
How do I find out if my contact lenses are expired?
Most contact lenses are packaged and sealed with a foil covering. The expiration date of your contact lenses may be printed on this foil layer as well as the box or container the lenses came in.
However, if you are unable to locate the expiry date, it is best practice to consult your optometrist for further advice.
Do unopened contact lenses expire?
An unopened packet of soft contact lenses sealed completely will typically last up to four years from the date of manufacture. However, if you notice the condition of the seal has been breached, we would strongly recommend you NOT to use the lens.
What if I wear my expired lenses?
Wearing expired contact lenses puts your eye health at risk of infections and long-term eye damage. Bacterial keratitis is just one of the infections you risk by wearing expired contact lenses, affecting the eye’s cornea. Serious eye infections may lead to permanent changes in vision such as blurriness and vision loss with short-term effects of eye discomfort and headaches.
How do I know if I am wearing an expired contact?
If you are concerned that your eyewear has expired or has been contaminated, be on the lookout for the following:
- Printed expiration dates on packaging, including foil seals
- Discomfort when wearing contact lenses that include pain, itchiness, dry eyes, or watery/teary eyes
- Eye redness and swelling of eyelids
- Changes in vision (e.g., blurry vision)
- Recurrent headaches
- Sensitivity to light
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