contact lenses - extended wear

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Extended Wear Contact Lenses

Extended wear (continuous wear) contact lenses are made to be worn over night for several days. This is possible due to the high oxygen flow, through the lens to the eye, allowed by the revolutionary material they are made from. What is this revolutionary material? Among other things - water. Actually, the high water content in other types of contact lenses inhibits oxygen flow, but in the specially designed extended wear lenses it increases oxygen flow. The types of extended wear lenses are defined by the amount of water in them.


  • Low water content lenses. These have a water content of 38%-45%. These are thin and can be difficult to work with.
  • Medium water content lenses. These have a water content of 48%-69%. These are the most popular choice among contact lens wearers.
  • High water content. These have a water content of 70%-80%. They allow for the most oxygen flow, but can have increase deposits on the lenses.

Extended wear contact lenses are very beneficial. They are more convenient. There is no worrying if you fall asleep at work or at school, when you didn’t expect to. They are particularly beneficial for those people whose eyesight is such that they have difficulty seeing in the morning when their contacts are not in. These patients have the wonderful experience of waking up and seeing well, right away. Something many people take for granted. Also given the increase oxygen flow there are fewer eye infections with extended wear lenses.

There are some complications, however. Because they are worn continuously, they can lead to dry eyes causing discomfort. While it was previously stated that there area fewer infections there are some organisms that thrive in the environment. Also the occurrence of corneal ulcers is the same for extended wear users as the users of regular contact lenses.

Extended wear contact lenses made from silicone hydrogel have been introduced to help combat some of the problems with extended wear lenses. They are certainly an improvement, but more advances are needed. With improved lens design, and better cleaners and disinfectants, problems for extended wear contact lens users will continue to decrease.

The patient can improve their own chances for decrease complications by avoiding smoke and swimming with the lenses in. Obviously, if smoke or pool chemicals get between the lens and the eye problems will occur. Also strictly following doctor’s recommendations greatly improves your chances of successful extended wear contact lens use.

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