Most daily disposable contacts are single-use, meaning they are meant to be thrown away after you take them out at the end of the day.

But many of our patients ask—do you still need to toss them if you only wear your dailies for a few hours before taking them out? Is it okay to wear daily contacts more than once? 

The answer to this question depends on what kind of daily contacts you have. That’s because there are daily disposable contact lenses, and then there are daily extended-use contact lenses. There are major differences in the way that these lenses are designed and how often they can safely be worn.

In this article, the True Eye Experts explain what you need to know about reusing daily contacts.

Daily Disposable vs. Extended-Use Contact Lenses

When we talk about reusing daily contacts, it’s important to know which kind we are talking about. There are two main types of lenses:

  • Daily disposable lenses are worn for one day only. They aren’t designed to be resistant to germs, bacteria, or other buildup that collects on the lens throughout the day. However, they tend to be more comfortable and breathable for some. Disposable lenses are often sold in large quantities—usually 30 to 180 lenses per box.
  • Extended-use lenses (also called monthly lenses) can be reused up to 30 days per lens. Extended-use lenses must be cleaned regularly with contact lens solution and stored in a clean case. They are designed to be resistant to damage and bacterial buildup, but they may not be suited for those with sensitive eyes.

You can check your lens box if you are  unsure which kind you have. The box will have instructions on how often you should dispose of the lenses.

Can you wear daily contacts more than once?

The short answer is no.   You shouldn’t wear daily disposable contacts more than once. However, you can safely re-wear daily extended-use lenses for up to a month (or however long your optometrist recommends).

But a common question is what if you only wore your disposable lenses for an hour or two? Is it safe to re-wear them after that?

Unfortunately, the answer to that is also no. You should always throw away daily disposable lenses, even if you only wore them for a little while.

Risks of Reusing Daily Contacts

The reason you shouldn’t re-wear daily disposables is that reusing them can come with health risks. Those risks include:

  • Irritation. Disposables don’t resist buildup like reusable lenses—which can lead to small irritants (like dust) getting in your eyes. By taking disposables out and putting them back in, you may experience pain, itchiness, or redness because of these irritants.
  • Bacterial infection. A study conducted at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University tested disposable lenses for bacteria after the lenses were worn for a day. The researchers found that 95% of the study participants had at least one pair of used lenses that were contaminated with harmful bacteria. The harmful bacteria that grows on disposable lenses can cause severe side effects—and even vision loss in some cases.

What is the best way to avoid eye irritation and infection? Wash your hands before handling contacts or touching your eyes, don’t sleep in lenses, and don’t reuse disposables.

Can you clean disposable contacts and then re-wear them?

Disposable contacts are very thin, which means cleaning them isn’t effective—and can actually break down the lens itself, which increases the risk of the lens falling apart during use.

Think of it like this: a daily disposable lens is like a paper plate. Paper plates are thin and get the job done for one meal, but they easily absorb food particles and liquids (like how a disposable lens absorbs bacteria).

Running a paper plate through a dishwasher or even lightly scrubbing it with a sponge doesn’t clean it. Instead, the cleaning process makes the paper break down without removing all the residue. It’s the same with disposable lenses. Re-wearing a disposable lens can expose you to harmful bacteria and put you at risk of infection, even if you clean them.

Contact Troubles? Talk to a True Eye Expert

If you have more contact questions or want to make the switch to monthly lenses, an eye doctor can help! The True Eye team is passionate about helping you and your family see clearly and comfortably. Click here to schedule an appointment at one of our offices in West Central Florida or fill out a contact form here and a member of our team will reach out to you.