Dangers of wearing your contact lenses after they’ve expired

Posted on: October 1, 2016

The expiration date for individual contact lenses is marked on each package. However, few people pay attention to it. Indeed, if you are like most people you see the date as just one more set of numbers on the side of the package. The date may not be as clear as it ought to be but it is still important that you pay attention to it.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, USDA, is a federal agency charged with keeping the public safe from various kinds of medical devices and drugs. There is a strict, long, and rather laborious process through which all such items must pass before they can be sold on the open market. One result of such testing is that the period of time in which the product will be safe and stable enough to consume is made known. That is how manufacturers and retailers arrive at an expiration date for their products.

Contact lenses are no exception to this rule. They too must go through a demanding series of tests before they are sold. They must also be assigned an expiration date. Beyond that date, the manufacturer cannot guarantee the safety of the product.

Expired contact lenses are not something to be ignored or shrugged off. There are real dangers to wearing them. One of the most common hazards is the deterioration of the packaging. Contact lenses that have sat in warehouses and stores for years may be vulnerable to bacterial and fungal contamination. Packaging is not designed to last indefinitely. The longer it sits unopened the greater the risk of a breach in the seal.

Cracks can open up under the normal wear and tear of sitting in a warehouse that is not climate-controlled. The surges of heat and coolness will over time break down the material construction of the packaging. And this of course puts the contents within it at serious risk.

Even if the packaged contact lenses survive the shelf, it is unlikely that they would have stayed unmoved. There is little doubt that the expired lenses would have been shifted around, abused and banged against different products. There is no guarantee that contact lenses that are well past their expiration date are still safely sealed in the containers in which they were packaged.

These days, it is common to do all your shopping online but you must be vigilant in refraining from ordering contacts from online retailers as you are not guaranteed to get expiry dates and are unaware if the lenses have in fact gone stale.

You should not take chances with your eyes. They are one of the most precious things you have. The expired contact lenses you come across may be cheaper than newer ones. But they may also be considerably more dangerous to wear. You must recall the fact that you are putting these products against one of the most delicate organs of your body. Any contamination that managed to slip in will leave you vulnerable to serious trouble—a massive infection or even near blindness. These are risks you cannot afford to take.

It is much better to buy contact lenses that are still within the expiration date. If you don’t, then you should know the disadvantages and dangers of wearing contact lenses that are expired.