contact lenses calgary

Why Do Contact Lenses Expire?

From your trust Optometry Centre at Crowfoot Vision Centre in Calgary


You may not think much about the expiration date on your contact lens box, but it is there for a good reason. Packaged medical devices like contacts are assigned an expiration date after which the manufacturer can’t guarantee that the product will be free from contamination. A contact lenses expiration date is clearly labelled on each box, it may require some searching but this is a date you want to make note of. Contacts are in constant contact with your eyes and it’s especially important to make sure you don’t use lenses from a package that’s past its expiration date.



Why Contact Lenses Have an Expiration Date

Because contact lenses need to be kept moist, they’re packaged in a saline solution that’s similar to the tear fluid in your eyes. Although kept in airtight containers, over time the seal can become compromised and the fluid thus contaminated. The solution will get more acidic or alkaline, which may irritate your eyes, and bacteria, amoebae and fungi can start to appear on the lens, increasing the risk of infection.

Health Canada requires contact lens manufacturers to give expiry dates as a consumer protection measure. The date is usually printed on the package in yyyy/mm format. So, if the package says 2019/12, your contacts are safe to wear until the end of December 2019.

Fun fact: did you know that the first contacts were made of glass? Today most people wear soft plastic lenses, but glass-like rigid gas permeable (RGP) contacts are still used to treat more challenging prescriptions.

Why You Should Adhere to the Expiration Date

Wearing expired contacts can irritate your eyes and lead to infections and even permanent vision loss. Contacts that are past their expiration date can cause eye conditions like conjunctivitis (better known as pink eye), keratitis and other infections. When untreated, these diseases can have serious complications and may result in partial or total blindness.

To avoid contact-related infections and injuries, make sure to clean and sanitize your contact lenses every day. Wash your hands thoroughly before removing your contact lenses, clean them with contact lens cleaning solution and then rinse them before putting them in a clean lens case with fresh cleaning solution. To learn more, check out our tips for caring for your contact lenses.

You should also make sure to dispose of your contact lenses by the recommended date—most disposable contacts should be thrown away daily, semi-weekly or monthly, depending on the type.

Fun fact: seeing is so important that it accounts for 50% of your brain’s functionality. A good reason to not take risks where your eyes are concerned.


Crowfoot Vision Centre: Leaders in Calgary optometry
Even if your contacts’ expiration date is a ways off, you should visit your eye doctor once a year to make sure that your refractive error hasn’t changed and that your eyes are still in good health. At Crowfoot Vision Centre, our optometrists will be glad to examine your eyes and give you a new prescription for contact lenses if necessary. Contact us to make an appointment at our clinic in Calgary.

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