Daily Disposable Contact Lenses VS Reusables – Which Is Better?
Many patients ask us, “what we think is better, monthly or daily disposable contacts?” The answer is typically “it depends”. There are many factors to consider, and our goal is to cover the key decision points in this brief article.
One key initial question we like to ask is ‘How often do you plan to wear contacts?’
If you think you’ll wear them only a few times a week, or when doing certain sports like trail running, skiing, or scuba diving, then the dailies are kind of a no-brainer. If you think you’ll wear contacts 5 or more days per week, then monthlies might make more sense for your budget.
There are many advantages to daily disposable contacts. Number one is convenience. You don’t have to clean them, keep track of right vs left after opening, clean your case or buy solution. When you’re done wearing them you can just wash your hands and pluck them out…and into the trash they go. Some of our patients who wear monthlies on a regular basis buy some dailies every year for when they go on trips. It’s much more convenient to throw a strip of 5 or 15 lenses in your bag than to bring a pair of monthlies, plus a pair of back-ups, plus solution and cases.
Number two is safety. The incidence of contact lens complications (eye infections, ocular inflammation, irritation, and dry eye to name a few) has gone WAY down as the use of daily lenses has gone up the last few years. A big part of this increase in safety has to do with the fact that it’s a clean sterile lens you’re using every time (remember to wash hands before touching your eyes…every time). Another factor related to safety is that we get to eliminate the harsh chemicals found in multi-purpose contact lens solutions. A final point relate to safety is this: everyone understands that you can’t sleep in a single use lens. Sleeping in contacts is not safe and should always be avoided. CLOW = Contact Lens Over-wear. Staying away from CLOW will keep your risk of contact lens complications LOW.
The down side to dailies amount to cost and availability. Cost may or may not be an issue for you. Generally speaking, if you wear contacts 4 or more times a week, you’ll probably spend less per year with a monthly replacement lens such as Biofinity, Biofinity Toric, or perhaps the Air Optix Multifocal lens. It’s important to factor in the cost of the cleaning solution, which can often exceed $100/year.
While the dailies cost about a dollar per lens (the price range is about $0.70 – $1.30/lens in 2020 as we go to WordPress) if you wear them every single day, that adds up. Let’s assume your lenses fall in the middle, at about $1 per lens. That’s $2/day….and $760/year…which is considerably more than you’d spend on monthlies, even with the cost of solution factored in. If you’re wearing them 4 days a week or less though, Dailies could be the better value. Only you can decide. Hopefully the doctor you are working with can help you make an informed decision.
Finally, let’s consider availability. It’s important to realize that even if dailies sound like the perfect fit for you, they don’t come in every prescription power. Over time this will improve, but the manufacturers tend to start offering toric lenses (for astigmatism) in the most commonly prescribed powers, and if the lens does well in the market, they will, over time, add more Rx powers to their lineup. This contrasts with toric monthlies, which generally are available in a wider range of toric powers. Even if you don’t need an astigmatic lens, if you have a high Rx, the daily lens you want may not come in your powers.
It’s a good idea to show up to your contact lens exam wearing your current contacts so the doctor can evaluate them on your eyes to see how well they work. If you are going to a new optometrist, it’s also a good call to bring documentation of your current contact lens Rx, so they know what lenses they are evaluating.