Thuy-Lan Nguyen OD, FAAO, FSLS
Chief of Cornea and Contact Lens Service
Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry
Contact lenses are now more mainstream than ever before. Whether you’re new to wearing soft contact lenses or have been a regular user for years, knowing the ins and outs of these lenses is very important.
Monthly lenses have been a tried and true “go to” for many consumers since they have been around the longest. They typically offer a wide range of vision correction options as well. However, as technology in lenses advances and more research is conducted on the differences between the existing modalities, it’s been found that daily disposable contact lenses are becoming more and more popular for a variety of reasons. In fact, it’s the fastest growing contact lens modality currently in the industry.1
Let’s go over some reasons as to why we’re seeing this kind of growth by reviewing the benefits daily disposable contact lenses offer.
Many contact lens wearers are familiar with monthly and two-week modalities of lenses, which also means they are familiar with their additional maintenance. These lenses may have less expensive upfront costs than daily disposables, however, they require more maintenance and have other costs associated with them throughout the life of the lens.
Cleaning solutions, contact lens cases, etc. add up in costs over time, especially if you’re one to travel. And let’s remember to include the time it takes to ensure proper contact lens cleanliness before and after insertion, between uses and regularly replacing the lenses as needed.
On the other hand, daily disposable contact lenses have none of these additional maintenance or cost factors of which to worry. Daily disposable contact lens users have minimal or no need for contact lens solutions or cases. You simply pop them in at the beginning of the day and remove and toss at the day’s end before going to sleep. Each lens is sealed in its own packet of saline solution, so you have a clean start every time.
2. Eye Health
As mentioned above, non-daily modalities of contact lenses need to be cleaned in between uses. Though using a cleaning solution is better than not cleaning them at all, putting lenses into a cleaning solution within a case increases the potential for bacterial growth. This can be especially true for part-time wearers in which contact lenses may be in the solution for several days at a time.2
Many users still “top off” their storage case with solution instead of using fresh solution each night or even worse, they use saliva or tap water to wet their lenses or simply rinse the case with water rather than the contact lens solution. Performing these cleaning routines without the solution may easily expose the lenses, case and eyes to greater risks of infection. Also, reused lenses may build up deposits over time and affect eye health and visual acuity.
With daily disposable lenses, the potential for bacteria or microbe growth is at a minimum because a fresh lens secured in its own solution is used each day. However, it’s important to remember to properly wash and dry your hands before and after handling any lenses to further minimize the risk of bacterial transfers. Using a fresh lens everyday also helps reduce the chances of inflammation, infection, and allergic reactions from extended use of a lens or using a lens that wasn’t thoroughly cleaned.
3. Compliance with wearing schedule
Though a high percentage of contact lens wearers may think they’re in good compliance with their contact lens hygiene and wearing schedule, the reality is a much lower percentage. In general, contact lens wearers are more compliant to the daily wear schedule than they are for other modalities due to their convenience. It’s less likely monthly or two-week wearers stick to the exact wearing schedule due to simple factors such as forgetfulness, procrastination or just being plain busy in life.3 In fact, those that wear one to two-week modalities tend to be the least compliant in their wearing schedules with only 48% being compliant compared to 72% and 88% for monthly and daily disposables, respectively.4
4. Improvement among common contact lens-related symptoms
There are many reasons why someone chooses to limit or stop their contact lens use. Much of the reasoning is attributed to people’s discomfort or pain during the day, but it can be sometimes difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. Fortunately, improved contact lens technologies have helped with these issues through the years as well as the increased use of daily disposable lenses.
In 2010, a study was conducted to see what improvements of common contact lens-related symptoms could be made through wearing daily disposable contact lenses versus habitually replacing their lenses between 1 and 4-week timeframes. The study focused on severity and frequency among the following symptoms: tired eyes, irritated eyes, lens awareness, blurred vision at end of day or replacement period, redness, discomfort, deposits/lens needs cleaning, and dryness.
Participants wore the daily disposable soft contact lenses over a 4-week period and were checked at weekly intervals to review their experiences. Over the two-year study with 81 participants, researchers were able to conclude that contact lens wearers showed statistically significant improvements for seven of these eight common symptoms when wearing daily disposable contact lenses.5
While wearing daily disposable contact lenses can be beneficial for patients, there are potential challenges.
1. Limited options for specialty vision correction needs
If you have a patient who needs more specialized vision corrections, for example, with higher astigmatism, suffers from severe dry eye, or irregular shaped cornea, disposable contact lenses in general may not work. Therefore, you may need to defer to more customized gas permeable or scleral contact lenses.
2. Larger upfront cost
Daily disposable contact lenses have the bad reputation of being much costlier to a patient than other modalities. This is true when comparing the basic lens costs as the patient must buy significantly more lenses.
However, patients should keep in mind the possible savings options offered by contact lens manufacturers and distributors. For example, when purchasing an annual supply of Unity BioSync® with HydraMist® contact lenses, a patient may be eligible for up to $220 in rebate savings.i Therefore, the upfront cost may be a little more, but the patient is getting some of that money back with the rebate as well as saving on maintenance costs (e.g. lens solution, cases, etc.).
Overall, daily disposable soft contact lenses are an amazing solution for those who value convenience, comfort, and eye health as part of their regular routine. These incredible benefits can truly help improve the contact lens wearing experience for new and regular users.
This was a quick guide to show the benefits daily disposable soft contact lenses can bring to consumers who may be interested in trying them. The most important thing to remember is that every person should get what best fits their lifestyle and visual situation. Ultimately, we all want great vision with long-lasting comfort so we can enjoy the little things in life each day.
Thuy-Lan Nguyen OD, FAAO, FSLS.
Chief of Cornea and Contact Lens Service
Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry
Dr. Thuy-Lan Nguyen received her Bachelor of Science degree from James Madison University in 1997. She graduated from Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry in 2002 with a Doctor of Optometry Degree. She completed a Residency in Primary Care with Emphasis in Cornea and Contact Lenses at NSU in 2003. Dr. Nguyen is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and a Fellow of the Scleral Lens Society. She is Chief of the Cornea and Contact Lens Service at NSU and currently holds the rank of Assistant Professor. Dr. Nguyen is a VSP Network Doctor and a VSP Global Ambassador.
This blog is for informational purposes only. Plexus Optix and affiliated entities cannot and do not provide professional or medical advice.
i Annual supply purchase rebate is valid through December 31, 2020. Please visit vsprebates.com/biosync for more information.
1. Nichols, J. J., & Starcher, L. (Eds.). (2020, January 01). Contact Lenses 2019. Retrieved from https://www.clspectrum.com/issues/2020/january-2020/contact-lenses-2019.
2. Cole, J. (Ed.). (2017, August 15). “Choosing the Right Contact Lens Modality”. Retrieved June 23, 2020, from https://www.reviewofoptometry. com/article/ro0817-choosing-the-right-contact-lens-modality.
3. Hickson-Curran, Sheila B. (2012, January 01).“Compliance Before, During and After Contact Lens Wear.” Contact Lens Spectrum. Retrieved from www.clspectrum.com/issues/2012/ january-2012/compliance-before,-during-and-after-contact-lens-w.
4. Sulley, Anna, & Dumbleton, Kathy. (2020, February 12). Contact Lens and Anterior Eye. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clae.2020.02.001
5. Fahmy, M., Long, B., Giles, T., & Wang, C. (2010). “Comfort-Enhanced Daily Disposable Contact Lens Reduces Symptoms Among Weekly/ Monthly Wear Patients”. Eye & Contact Lens: Science & Clinical Practice, 36(4), 215-219.
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