Contact Lens Wearers Beware: Using Expired Contacts Can Pose Serious Risks

If you’re one of the many contact lens wearers out there, you know just how important it is to properly care for your lenses. However, we’ve all been guilty of breaking a few rules here and there. Whether it’s sleeping in them, reusing them when we shouldn’t, or even using them past their expiration date, it’s time to take a closer look at the potential risks involved.

Using expired contact lenses may seem harmless, but it can actually put your eyes at risk of infection or worse. To determine if your contacts are expired, simply check the month and year printed on the box. For example, if it reads 06/23, that means the contacts are good until the end of June 2023. Using them beyond that date can lead to serious consequences.

Dr. Yuna Rapoport, an ophthalmologist at Manhattan Eye, warns that using expired contacts can result in initial burning, stinging, and redness. If you experience these symptoms, it’s crucial to remove the contacts immediately and use preservative-free artificial tears.

One major risk of using expired contacts is the potential for infections. Even though the contacts may be sealed, the solution inside may no longer be effective. This can lead to bacterial and fungal growth, which can cause infections like bacterial keratitis. Symptoms of this infection include eye redness, sensitivity to light, pain, and blurred vision.

Dr. Rapoport explains that while small infections may not cause permanent damage, central infections can lead to scarring, irregular astigmatism, poor vision, and even permanent vision loss or the need for a corneal transplant.

Another important factor to consider is that contact lenses usually expire after a year. If you’re using expired contacts with an outdated prescription, you may experience blurry vision, eye strain, and fatigue. It’s crucial to schedule annual eye exams to ensure your prescription is up to date and to get properly fitted for new contact lenses.

Using expired contacts can also increase your chances of experiencing dry eyes. Over time, contacts lose their permeability, leading to less moisture reaching your eyes. Dry eyes may not seem like a big deal, but tears are essential for protecting your eyes from infection.

Dr. Rapoport warns that using expired contacts puts you at risk of corneal ulcers, infections, keratitis, and inflammation. She strongly advises against trying to extend the life of your contacts and recommends discarding them accordingly.

In addition to proper contact lens care, Dr. Rapoport emphasizes the importance of handwashing before handling your contacts and using lubricating drops before inserting or removing them. By following these hygienic practices, you can help ensure the health and safety of your eyes.

So, contact lens wearers, remember to prioritize your eye health and avoid the risks associated with using expired contacts. Your eyes will thank you!

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