Updated on  April 29, 2024
5 min read

Types of Contacts and Their Expiration Dates

6 sources cited
Vision Center is funded by our readers. We may earn commissions if you purchase something via one of our links.

Do Contact Lenses Expire?

Yes, contact lenses expire.

Gas permeable contact lenses being held by woman outside of photo edited

Soft contact lenses have an expiration date, usually around four years from the date they were packaged. Contact prescriptions also expire.

Your state usually sets the expiration date for your contact lens prescription. If your state has not indicated a prescription expiration date, it will expire in one year. This rule is set by federal regulation.

To check the expiration date of your contact lenses, refer to the packaging they come in. This helps you avoid any issues or complications with wearing expired contacts.

Where to Buy Glasses + Contacts

Best Overall: Warby Parker

Fastest Delivery: EyeBuyDirect

Also Great: Liingo

Best Place to Buy Contacts: Discount Contacts

Is It Dangerous to Wear Expired Contacts?

Yes, it’s dangerous to wear expired contacts. 

Improper lenses and ignoring expiration dates are the two primary causes of eye infections linked to contact lens use. Poor contact lens hygiene is a considerable risk factor for eye health.

The risks of wearing expired contact lenses include:

  • Inflammation and reddening of the eye
  • Moderate to severe eye pain
  • Partial or total loss of vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye infections
  • Scarring

Always check and follow your contact lens expiration date to avoid these eye issues. Even unopened contact lenses that have expired can collect deposits on them and are unsafe to wear.

Why Do Contacts Expire?

The contacts themselves don’t expire. Rather, the solution inside the blister pack does. The solution contains chemicals that help keep the lenses moist and comfortable.

These chemicals break down over time, causing the lenses to dry out and lose their ability to protect your eyes. The expiration date on the package tells you how much longer the solution inside the pack can stay active before it needs to be thrown away.

Types of Contacts & Their Expiration Dates

Different types of contact lenses fix different vision problems:

Soft Contact Lenses

Soft contact lenses are produced from silicone hydrogels. These materials allow oxygen to reach the cornea. Soft contact lenses are easy to adjust to and comfortable.

There are several types of soft contact lenses to choose from:

Daily Contact Lenses

Daily contact lenses are disposable. They are worn for one day and then disposed of the same day.

They are becoming very popular because they are more convenient and cleaner than other contacts.

Monthly Contact Lenses

Monthly contact lenses are also disposable. They are the most common type of lenses worn. Each pair lasts a full month. Every day, they are removed and placed into a contact lens solution.

Extended-Wear Contacts

Extended-wear contact lenses are used for overnight or continuous wear. This can range from one to six nights or up to 30 days. Extended-wear lenses are usually soft. Only certain people can use extended-wear contacts, so check with your eye doctor.

Non-Prescription (Fake) Contacts

Fake contacts change the color of your eyes. Many people in the entertainment industry use them. They are safe; however, you need a prescription from an authorized retailer. These lenses can last anywhere between 30 days to a year after opening.

Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Lenses

Rigid gas-permeable contact lenses are more durable and resistant to build-up than soft contact lenses. Hard lenses also usually provide clearer vision.

Rigid gas permeable lenses are also more affordable long-term than soft lenses, as they last longer. If hard lenses are properly cared for, they can last up to two years or even longer.

They’re also easier to handle and are less likely to break or tear than soft lenses. However, rigid gas-permeable lenses aren’t as comfortable as soft contacts. 

What to Do When You Accidentally Wear Expired Contacts 

In most cases, wearing expired contacts won’t do any harm. If you notice your contact lenses have expired, remove them immediately and dispose of them.

The most common thing that could happen is your eyes getting irritated. Any irritation is usually mild and goes away within a few.

In some rare cases, however, the irritation could lead to an eye infection. If you notice any discomfort, such as burning, redness, or blurred vision, consult your eye doctor immediately.

Contact Lens Care Tips

Following proper contact lens use will also reduce your likelihood of experiencing risks linked to contact lenses. Proper lens hygiene includes:

  • Cleaning your lenses thoroughly in a disinfecting solution
  • Never use plain saline solution or saliva to clean your contacts
  • Storing lenses properly in an airtight container
  • Frequently replacing your lenses case
  • Resting your eyes often without contacts in
  • Never try to extend contact use beyond their shelf life
  • Never use a multipurpose contact solution past its expiration date

To prevent irritation caused by old contact lenses, it’s essential to replace them as recommended by an eye doctor or optometrist. Even if you practice proper eye care and contact lens hygiene, contacts must be discarded and replaced as directed.

If you’re concerned about wasting contact lenses that will expire soon, wear your contacts from oldest to newest, as long as none are past their expiration date. This method ensures that older lenses won’t be forgotten or discarded simply because they’ve expired.

Approximately 99 percent of people wearing contacts report at least one contact lens hygiene behavior that increases their risk of eye inflammation or infection. Around 40 to 90 percent of wearers don’t practice proper care instructions for their contact lenses.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018


Contact lenses have expiration dates to ensure they are used safely and effectively. Wearing expired contact lenses increases your risk of eye infections and damage. 

Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when replacing your contact lenses to avoid this problem.

Best Places to Buy Contacts

Best Overall

Discount Contacts is our #1 recommendation to buy contacts online.

Also Great
glasses usa logo

GlassesUSA has a huge selection of contacts, glasses, & sunglasses.

Best Places to Buy Glasses

Best Overall

Warby Parker has stylish, high-quality frames at affordable prices.

Also Great

Liingo Eyewear is another great option to buy glasses online.

Best on a Budget

EyeBuyDirect has a wide variety of budget frames starting at $6.

Updated on  April 29, 2024
6 sources cited
Updated on  April 29, 2024
  1. “Focusing on contact lens safety.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 2019.
  2. “Types of contact lenses.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 2018.
  3. “Decorative Contact Lenses for Halloween and More.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 2019. https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/contact-lenses/decorative-contact-lenses-halloween-and-m
  4. “Estimated burden of keratitis.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014.
  5. “Fast facts, Healthy contact lens wear and care.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018.
  6. “Six Steps to Avoid Contact Lens Infections.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2020.
The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.