Image result for picture of a cup of coffee  What does a cup of morning coffee have to do with contact lens wear and eye health?  Well, it could help keep your eyes healthier and at less risk for vision changes.

First, some background on contact lenses.

The first reported description of contact lenses dates to around 1508.   Yes, the talented Leonardo Da Vinci reportedly offered an illustration of contact lenses.   Fast forward to 1887.  The first contact lens was created using glass as the material!   In 1939 another material was used to manufacture a contact lens, plastic, eventually with the material evolving from “hard lenses” to gas permeable contact lenses known as “RGPs“ (rigid gas permeable) lenses.  With research and development intensifying in accordance with patient demands, comfort and convenience was the focus and in 1971 soft contact lens were brought to the market.  Soft contact lenses became increasingly popular due to improved comfort.  Then, in 1987, arguably one of the most important advancements occurred with the introduction of disposable soft contact lenses.

Daily disposable contact lenses are lenses that are single use, removed and discarded at the end of the day.  The next day, a new and fresh pair of lenses are used.   Disposable contacts that are designed to be worn more than 1 day must be removed nightly, cleaned, and then disposed after a set period of time.  An example of these lenses are the popular two week disposable soft contact lens such as Acuvue® Oasys®.  Daily wear lenses are those that are worn during the day, and then removed at night, disinfected/cleaned, and stored until next day for use.  FDA approval for “sleeping in the lenses” or extended wear has not been given for daily disposable lenses.  Many patients falsely think that wearing the lens through the night is acceptable and is not going to have some effect on cornea health.   This is not true and patients should wear contacts as directed and replace as specified.

So, why would one throw away contact lenses?  Besides comfort, they provide excellent vision and ease of use.  But most importantly, disposable contact lenses support eye health.  The chance of buildup on the disposable lenses from various debris such as calcium, protein, and make-up particles, is greatly reduced, and decreases the potential for corneal or conjunctival infection.

Certainly the use of daily contact lenses has seen a surge in popularity among practitioners and patients.  But the concept of daily contact lens use is not new.  The knowledge that replacing lenses frequently was not the problem, the issue was the cost.  Credit the research and development of contact lens manufacturers for bringing to market new materials for the lenses.  As result of the increasingly healthier material, the lenses have become less expensive with advances in manufacturing.  The result was increase disposability.

Imagine not having to clean your contacts every day.  Rather, you would take them out at night and discard them, and put a new pair of lenses in the next day.  Further, daily disposable lenses reduce the occurrence of uncomfortable, dry or irritating effects to the eye(s).  Daily disposable lenses serve to rid you of those “bad lens” days and allow for great comfort and clarity of vision. Of course there are some very unusual prescriptions that would not fit the parameters of daily contact lens design.  But, that is a rare occurrence as a wide variety of daily disposable contact lens exist and continue to broaden for most patients, regardless of age or  prescription.

Probably the most frequently asked question about daily disposable contact lenses concerns cost to the patient.  It is a very good question which is addressed with candidness that these lenses are slightly more expensive to the patient.  However, some of the cost is offset by savings a patient can achieve by not needing to purchase any associated contact lens care accessories.   Consider that you can spend more at Dunkin’ Donuts® or Starbucks® for your morning coffee visit than you would spend on daily disposable contact lenses.  And while we all love that short lived pleasure from a visit to your favorite coffee house for a morning “cup of Joe”, the thrill of wearing a contact lens that gives great vision and comfort lasts all day!