The America’s Best Guide to Monthly Contact Lenses

With monthlies, you’re reusing the same contact lenses day after day. That’s why they call for extra care to keep them — and your eyes — clean. Here’s what you need to know.

America's Best Guide to Monthly Contact Lenses

If you’re considering contact lenses, you’ve probably come across monthly contact lenses, or monthlies. Billed as cheaper and more beginner-friendly than daily contact lenses, monthly contact lenses offer plenty to love. 

Still, wearing contact lenses takes commitment — and monthlies are no exception. Monthly contact lenses need to be cleaned nightly and replaced regularly. Skimping on proper lens care can make them uncomfortable to wear. Not to mention, it can lead to painful, serious eye infections.  

The bottom line: The decision to wear monthlies isn’t always straightforward. It’s important to weigh their pros and cons before taking the leap. Here are seven things you need to know to help you make the right decision for your vision and eye health. 

Did you know that contact lens prescriptions need to be renewed every year? Find an exam time that fits your schedule

What Are Monthly Contact Lenses?  

Contact lenses are clear, thin disks you wear in your eye to correct vision problems such as nearsightedness (myopia) and farsightedness (hyperopia). 

Most contact lenses must be removed and cleaned every night. However, certain types can be used multiple days in a row. Monthly contact lenses, as their name suggests, can be used every day for around 30 days. (The exact time frame varies by brand and type.) After that, you’ll need to use a fresh pair. 

Like other contact lenses, monthlies are considered medical devices. In other words, you’ll need a prescription from an eye doctor (an optometrist or ophthalmologist) to wear them. 

How Are Monthly Contact Lenses Different Than Daily Contact Lenses?  

To decide between monthly and daily contact lenses, you need to know the key differences between the two. Whereas monthly contact lenses can be worn for 30 days, daily contact lenses have to be thrown away at the end of the day. And in between those two options are weekly contact lenses, which are designed to be work for one to two weeks and then replaced. 

Given that they need to last a long time, monthly contact lenses tend to be stiffer and thicker than daily lenses. This may make them easier to use. “Because they’re a bit more rigid than dailies, monthlies tend to be easier to put in the eye, especially for people who are putting contacts in for the first time,” says Jeff Foster, O.D., an optometrist at America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses in San Antonio, Texas. 

What’s more, monthly contact lenses are better for the environment. After all, choosing monthlies means tossing out little bits of plastic only once every 30 days. (Contact lenses and contact lens cases are recyclable. Check with your local recycling program for instructions on safely recycling your old contact lenses and cases.) 

However, dailies get points for convenience. There’s no cleaning or storing required. Simply open a pack and toss when done. 

Dailies also tend to be more comfortable for some people, as monthlies can lose some of their moisture over the course of 30 days. 

Plus, soaking monthlies in lens-cleaning solutions can cause irritation for some. Dailies, on the other hand, come in individually packaged blister packs and tend to be gentler on the eyes. Learn how to pick the right contact lens solution here. 

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What Types of Monthly Contact Lens Options Are There? 

Monthly contact lenses fall under two categories: hard and soft. Hard lenses are more durable, whereas soft lenses are made of more flexible plastics. 

Soft Contact Lenses  

A whopping 90% of people who wear contact lenses opt for soft lenses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Not only do soft lenses tend to be the most comfortable option — they’re also available in multiple types for monthlies. 

The different types of monthly soft contacts include: 

  • Planned replacement contact lenses. These standard soft lenses are worn during the day, cleaned and disinfected overnight, and worn again the next day. Rinse and repeat for up to 30 days.  
  • Extended-wear and continuous-wear contact lenses. Sleeping in your contacts is generally a bad idea. That’s because it increases your risk of an eye infection. However, if you tend to fall asleep while wearing your lenses, extended-wear contacts could be a good idea. Some can be worn continuously, including overnight, for up to 30 days. 
  • Monovision contact lenses. These can help correct presbyopia, an age-related eye condition that makes it harder to see objects up close. The lenses work by correcting for distance in one eye and near vision in the other eye. So, the left eye can see things far away and the right eye can see things up close. The end result: Both eyes work together so you can see clearly at any distance. 
  • Multifocal contact lenses. Another contact lens option for those with presbyopica, multifocals correct both near and far vision in both lenses. This enables you to see at any distance with both eyes.  
  • Toric contact lenses. These correct for astigmatism, a refractive error that occurs when the cornea (the front part of the eye) or lens is too curved, causing blurry vision at all distances. 
  • Colored contact lenses. These are tinted to change the appearance of your eye color. But they can also correct your vision, making them fun and functional. 

Hard Contact Lenses 

The most common type of hard contact lens is the rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lens. RGPs tend to be more durable and less likely to tear than soft contacts. This helps them last longer, which may make them less pricey. Plus, hard lenses generally provide sharper vision, compared with soft lenses. 

However, RGPs are more complicated to fit and have a longer adjustment period. They’re also tougher to clean and disinfect. 

Have a current contact lens prescription? America’s Best makes online ordering easy. Learn more here 

Who Might Be Well Suited to Monthly Contact Lenses? 

“A really good person for monthly contact lenses is somebody who’s on a budget, because monthlies are significantly cheaper than a daily contact lens,” Dr. Foster says. 

However, the cost of your contact lenses can vary depending on other factors — such as your insurance plan and whether you need a specialized prescription for something like astigmatism or multifocal lenses. 

Check with your eye doctor and your insurance plan before assuming monthlies are cheaper. Some plans provide a yearly allowance toward contacts, so monthlies and dailies may end up costing the same. America’s Best Eyecare Club is another great way to save on contact lenses and exams for three years. 

Monthlies are also great for people with solid hygiene habits. That means you’re diligent about cleaning your contact lenses every night and replacing them on schedule.  

“If we have somebody who’s really terrible about throwing away their contact lenses after a month, they sleep in their contacts, and they’re getting infections, then I’m going to move them over to a daily lens,” Dr. Foster says.  

People with eye allergies and sensitive eyes may have a tougher time wearing monthly contact lenses. That’s because contacts hold onto tiny particles, despite thorough nightly cleanings. That means eye irritants, such as pollen and dust, can come into contact with your eyes every time you insert your lenses. 

Can I Sleep in Monthly Contact Lenses? 

Some contacts, such as extended- and continuous-wear lenses, have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for overnight wear. Still, sleeping in your contact lenses increases the chance that bacteria will get in your eye and cause an infection. 

In fact, sleeping while wearing contact lenses increases your risk of getting a bacterial eye infection by up to eight times, according to the CDC. 

Play it safe by taking out your lenses before you go to bed. 

Recommended reading: Eye Infections: 5 Conditions You Should Know About — and How to Treat Them 

How Do I Care for My Monthly Contact Lenses? 

Because you’re reusing the same lenses day after day, monthlies call for extra care to keep them — and your eyes — clean. If you’re not careful about contact lens hygiene, you can get bacteria in your eyes and develop an infection. Minor infections can be painful and disrupt daily life. Serious infections, which affect up to 1 in 500 contact lens wearers per year, can lead to lasting damage. Some can even cause blindness, according to the American Optometric Association. 

Follow these steps to keep your lenses and eyes healthy. 

Don’t wear your contacts longer than 30 days. Your lenses are FDA-approved to function for a certain number of days. Once they pass their expiration date, the lenses become dry, uncomfortable, and harder to see through. (Learn more about why it’s important to pop in a fresh pair each month here.)  

Don’t wear your contacts when you go swimming. Water can expose your contact lenses to germs. If those germs get into your eyes, you can get an infection. 

Wash your hands before putting your lenses in or taking them out. Your hands pick up a lot of germs throughout the day. You’ve probably touched doorknobs, steering wheels, food, and other objects teeming with microbes. To avoid transferring those germs into your eyes or onto your contact lenses or lens case, be sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water, then dry them with a clean towel before handling your lenses. 

Clean your contacts every night. After washing and drying your hands, you’re ready to take the lenses out of your eyes. Before putting them in the contact lens case to soak overnight, gently rub and rinse them with contact lens disinfecting solution. This removes deposits and microbes from the lenses. 

Never mix used contact lens solution with fresh solution. Fill the case with fresh solution at night — don’t simply “top off” the solution you used to clean your lenses overnight. “You don’t want to just keep filling [the case] with more solution, because that can harbor bacteria,” Dr. Foster says. That bacteria can then get on your lenses, increasing your risk of an eye infection. Extra credit: Rub and rinse your contact lens case with disinfecting solution every morning. Then, wipe it with a tissue and allow it to air-dry with the caps off. Cleaning your lens case regularly helps kill any lingering germs that may contaminate the fresh solution. 

Replace your contact lens case every three months. Even if you clean your contact lens case daily, it’s a good idea to replace it regularly. Dr. Foster suggests tossing it out once you run out of cleaning solution. “You can get a new case when you buy new solution,” he says. 

How Do I Get Monthly Contact Lenses? 

If you’re interested in monthly contact lenses, make an appointment for a contact lens eye exam. Your eye doctor will check your vision, fit you for a prescription, and measure each of your eyes to determine the proper lens fit. 

Your eye doctor will also ask you about your daily habits and routines. Your answers will suggest whether or not you’re a good candidate for monthlies. It’s important that you’re honest with your doctor, so they can help you find lenses that match your lifestyle. If you fall asleep in your contacts or travel often, then monthlies may not be a good fit for you.  

Medically reviewed by Jeff Foster, O.D. 

See our sources: 
Contact lens types: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
Contact lens fast facts: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
How contact lens wearers can protect their eyes: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
Healthy vision and contact lenses: American Optometric Association