Give me a break

New research suggests that breaks in contact lens wear are unlikely to increase overall comfortable wearing time


Short, contact lens-free breaks appear to make no overall difference to the total length of time in a day that a wearer can comfortably use soft contact lenses, new research finds.

The 25 contact lens wearers were unaware of what the study was looking at, but switched their contact lenses every two hours over eight days. This switch was accompanied by a lens-free break of zero, 30, 60 or 80 minutes, with the same break time repeated through the day.

The contact lens wearers were told the breaks were for a series of different tests, to “minimise bias associated with potential participant expectation that a new lens or longer lens-free intervals may be associated with better comfort,” the paper highlighted.

The participants rated their ocular comfort through the day, and the researchers also measured their tear film and other ocular parameters at both the start and the end of a day.

The paper outlined that: “Given that removal of a contact lens usually leads to an immediate cessation of discomfort, and a full night of no lens wear allows the ocular surface to replenish or ‘reset’ itself, it is pertinent to consider whether short breaks of lens wear throughout a day will allow the ocular surface to repair any changes that may have occurred.”

Comparing the data in the paper published in the journal Optometry & Vision Science, the researchers found that the breaks had no significant difference in end-of-day comfort, or any other parameters measured.

The researchers concluded that, once the combined length of contact lens wear exceeded a certain amount, there is no benefit from short recovery breaks.

They outlined that: “As no trend could be seen toward the longer recovery periods, it is unclear whether longer recovery periods throughout a day would make a difference, or whether a complete replenishing of the ocular surface during sleep is required to reset the comfort levels.”

The paper was part of a special edition of the journal looking at dry eye and contact lens discomfort.