When do Contact Lenses Expire?
We all know foods like fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products go bad, usually much quicker than we’d like. However, your contact lenses are also susceptible to the same demise. While they don’t spoil as quickly, contact lenses can and will go bad under the right circumstances. In order to avoid any eye infections and other expired contact lens symptoms, it is best to be aware of the status of contacts, as well as to adhere to the information below.
All contact lenses come with an expiration date, which can easily go unnoticed. These numbers are found on the package itself and are listed by year/month. The expiration dates on contact lenses are based off of the date they were manufactured, not the date of purchase. However, these dates tend to be far in advance, typically around five or six years away. While five or six years seems far away, life is busy, and it can be easy to lose track of the expiration date of your contact lenses. While an unintentional mistake, the effects of wearing expired contact lenses can be detrimental.
“The contact lens expiration date doesn’t apply to the contacts themselves,” explains Dr. Wende, Medical Director of ContactsDirect. “That date applies solely to the contact solution, as well as the packaging or sealing.” While you may have always wondered how long contact lenses last unopened, know that the expiration date still pertains. When lenses reach their expiration date, the packaging or sealing of the container may no longer be airtight. When air is able to reach the contacts, it creates an environment that is susceptible to all kinds of bacteria and fungi, thus, putting you at risk of an eye infection.
However, the possibility of infection from bacteria or fungus is not the only risk of using expired contact lenses. If air gets into the container for a prolonged amount of time, it could throw off the pH of the solution, thus causing the solution to become increasingly acidic or basic. The result of this shift is an increased risk of irritation and possible infections if these contacts are worn.
If you’re unsure about the status of your lenses, be sure to keep an eye out for expired contact lens symptoms. These symptoms could include blurry vision, increased dryness, allergic reaction, or general irritation. If any of these symptoms occur, be sure to contact your eye doctor or general health care provider.
Read more: Why are my Contacts Blurry?
Dr. Wende also warns against using expired contact lens solution. “Some people may feel bad about disposing of a barely-used, but expired, container of contact lens solution,” says Dr. Wende. “However, there are countless health problems that could result from using expired solution, including eye infections and, in rare cases, blindness.” In order to protect your eyes from any infections, it’s best to avoid all expired products.