A dilemma that some patients may face when beginning contact lens wear is the choice between being fitted with monthly or daily disposable lenses. Our eye doctors may recommend that you wear a specific type of lens due to various factors in the eye, such as availability due to prescription, ocular disease, or hygiene concerns. However, there are other variables that go into the decision that are up to you and your preferences. Read on to learn more about how to make this decision.
A big motivator for many patients is the cost difference between monthly and daily lenses. Off hand, many people will easily recall that daily disposables are more expensive to purchase. However, there are also additional costs associated with monthly lenses that complicate the comparison.
It is important to consider how often you plan on wearing the lenses. For patients that wear contact lenses every single day, daily disposables will be more expensive due to needing 30 pairs a month. On the other hand, for patients that only wear their lenses a couple of days a week, a box of 30 daily contact lenses will actually last longer than one month while a monthly lens must be thrown out 30 days after initially opening the package, regardless of how many days it was worn for.
Additional costs for monthly lenses include the accessories needed for storage of the lenses overnight such as saline solution and/or peroxide cleaner. For those that have issues with dry eyes throughout the day, there may also be the cost of artificial tears.
Monthly lenses are often associated with being a hassle to clean and store. Not only does the cleaning routine include rubbing and rinsing the lens with saline, but patients also need to store and disinfect their lenses at night in special contact lens solution. This prevents one from being able to use the lens until at least 6 hours has passed. This routine takes some time but regular contact lens wearers will easily get into a rhythm and be able to complete the steps quickly.
For travel, daily disposables are often the preference as there is no fear of losing the lens and one does not need to bother with a cleaning regime. However, for longer vacations, some people find it a hassle to carry the large quantity of lenses.
As stated in the daily disposable name, a new daily lens is inserted every morning. This means that the contact lens is not exposed to additional solutions or storage overnight and does not have a buildup of proteins and other materials from our eyes over several weeks. This decreases the amount of irritants that can enter the eye on the contact lens. For those that are sensitive to solutions, allergens in the air, or work environments with debris, a daily replacement is best.
Monthly lenses tend to be thicker and thus easier to insert for first time wearers as they hold their shape better. The thicker lens also helps prevent thinning or breakage of the lens with rubbing to clean it at night. If you wear lenses for astigmatism, you may find that monthly lenses provide less variable vision due to their rotational stability on the eyes. Some individuals, however, find that a thicker lens is more uncomfortable to wear.
The environmental effect of daily disposable lenses is often discussed by patients as they are disposing of the plastic cases that hold each lens every day. It is important to note that some municipalities are able to recycle the blister packs if they are disposed of in the right way (i.e. placed inside larger plastic containers to be recycled together). Check with your local municipality to see if they are able to help you recycle the cases. Monthly disposables also come with their own environmental effects, including disposal of the solution bottles and cases every couple of months.