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How Often Should You Update Your Contact Prescription?

mirror reflection of man taking contact lenses out of case

Health Canada classifies contact lenses as medical devices. Because of this, you require a prescription from a doctor to buy a pair of contacts. And that prescription comes with a best before date. So how long do your contacts last?

Take a look at this guide to learn more about contact lens prescriptions and what to do if they expire.

How Long Will Your Contact Lens Prescription Last?

Many contact lens prescriptions expire after a year, but this isn't always the case. There isn't a specific expiry date for every prescription out there.

Depending on a few different factors, your contact lens prescription could last more than a year or less than a year.

When Do Your Contact Lenses Really Expire?

The Canadian Association of Optometrists suggests that contact lens prescriptions be used for no longer than two years. In other words, the prescription is considered expired and your optometrist must see you again and give you a new prescription.

Occasionally doctors will set a contact lens prescription to expire in only a few months. This usually happens if the patient suffers from certain medical conditions.

Meanwhile besides the prescription expiring, the lenses themselves also have an expiry date. Disposable contact lenses are good for one day if they are dailies, 7 days if they are weeklies and 30 days if they are monthlies. Unopened soft lenses typically expire within a year of being made.

doctor handing contact lens prescription to woman

Why Do I Need to Get a New Contact Lens Prescription?

Many people avoid going to the eye doctor. They avoid getting a new contact lens prescription because they think it saves them time and money. If you can still see well out of your current contacts, why should you bother getting new ones, right?

The problem is you might not be able to see as well as you think.

Why?

Because changes to your prescription happen over time. The gradual differences make it difficult to notice them. Even if you don't realize the changes, they can put extra strain on your eyes.

Continuing to use outdated prescriptions can worsen your vision.

People between the ages of 40 and 60 are more likely to notice changes in their vision. But younger people can live with bad vision and not even realize they need a new prescription.

older woman with blue eyes and contact lens

How Often Should I Visit an Eye Doctor?

Adults with no vision problems should visit an eye doctor at least once every two years. These appointments are more frequent for people who already wear glasses or contacts, young children, and older adults.

Remember, your prescription could be changing without you noticing. That's why it's important to stick to this schedule.

You should never put off going to the eye doctor because you want to save money. All you're doing is straining your eyes, which could be making them worse. You could end up paying more to fix a bigger issue.

It's better for your health and safety to visit the eye doctor at least once a year.

Signs You Need a New Contact Lens Prescription

If you're having trouble recognizing changes in your vision, there are a few signs you should be aware of. These may not seem like they're the result of bad vision. But, they are good reasons to make an appointment with an eye doctor.

Here's a quick list of the four most common signs you may need an updated prescription.

1. Headaches

Headaches are one of the earliest warning signs that something might be wrong with your vision.

Even if you don't see your vision changing, your brain notices the difference. As a result, it tries to work harder to fix the problem, but the longer it does this, the harder it works. After a while, you get a headache.

Other things can also cause headaches, so it can be difficult to recognize your vision as the root cause. Headaches brought on by bad vision tend to be in the front of your head or in the spots right above your eyebrows.

woman with headache at work

2. Eye Fatigue

When your eyes work harder, they get tired. Of course, like with headaches, there are many other causes of eye fatigue. Things like allergies or tiredness should only affect your eyes for a few days at a time.

If your eye fatigue lasts longer than two or three days, it might be from an outdated prescription. A new contacts prescription will keep your eyes from straining and get rid of the fatigue.

3. Squinting

Squinting improves your focus and the clarity of your vision. Many people with vision problems squint without realizing it. They only catch the habit when their head and eyes start to hurt.

But, squinting strains your eyes.

Continuous squinting can cause more damage to your eyes, so you should never do it for a long period of time. If you find yourself squinting all the time, that's a sure sign you need a new prescription for your contact lenses.

4. Blurred Vision

This is a much more obvious sign. Although some people don't realize it, blurred vision doesn't mean that everything you see appears blurry all the time.

You might experience a quick blur or an occasional loss of focus. This is blurry vision!

Make an appointment with your eye doctor right away if you notice this symptom.

outdoor scene with blurred blue people

Has Your Contact Lens Prescription Expired?

Your contact lens prescription is typically good for at least one year. Depending on the condition of your eyes and vision, it can also expire sooner or later than that.

As a rule of thumb, don't keep wearing lenses with your expired prescription without checking with your eye doctor. If your vision has changed, doing so could make your vision worse.

If you're in need of new contact lenses check out some of these options!

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