Blog Hero

Do Contact Lenses Expire?

Book Appointment
A pair of contact lenses on a reflective surface.

Contact lenses have become increasingly popular, but they don’t last forever.

In Canada, contact lenses expire, at most, 5 years after their date of manufacturing. Contact lenses should not be used after their expiration date. 

Your eye doctor can advise you on how to care for your contact lenses. They can also help with contact fittings and ordering the lenses that suit your eyes. 

What Is the Expiration Date on Contact Lenses? 

In Canada, contact lenses are regulated by Health Canada. According to Health Canada, contact lenses must have an expiration date of at most 5 years from the manufacturing date. 

This regulation is in place to help keep lenses safe and effective for users. It’s important to note that the lenses should not be used once the expiration date has passed.

To find the expiration date on contact lenses in Canada, users should look for a code on the packaging or the lenses themselves. 

This code typically includes the expiration date in a numerical format, such as YY/MM or MM/YY. Users should replace their lenses before the expiration date. 

Contact lens users need to understand the regulations surrounding expiration dates. 

Why Do Contact Lenses Expire? 

There are several reasons why contact lenses expire, including the buildup of deposits on the lenses, environmental factors, and the accumulation of bacteria. 

Packaging Issues

Contact lens manufacturers typically package their products in sealed blister packs filled with sterile saline solution. However, once the expiration date passes, the saline solution can degrade, and the seal of the blister pack may become compromised, increasing the risk of bacterial contamination. It’s important to carefully monitor the expiration dates of your contact lenses and discard any packages that show signs of damage or tampering.

Deposit Buildup

Another potential issue when using expired contact lenses is the buildup of deposits that can affect their effectiveness and cause discomfort or irritation. Various factors, including proteins from tears, cosmetics, and environmental pollutants, can cause these deposits. 

Over time, these deposits can accumulate on the lenses, making them less effective at correcting vision and more likely to cause discomfort or irritation. 

Environmental Factors

In Canada, environmental factors can also affect contact lens expiration. For example, exposure to sunlight and high temperatures can cause the lenses to break down more quickly. This is why it’s important to store contact lenses properly and avoid exposure to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight. 

Bacterial Infections

Lastly, bacteria can thrive in the warm, moist environment created by contact lenses and, if left unchecked, can cause serious eye infections. This is why it’s essential to follow proper hygiene practices when handling contact lenses, including washing your hands before handling them and properly disinfecting them regularly.

What Happens if You Wear Expired Contact Lenses? 

Wearing expired contact lenses can lead to various potential consequences, such as discomfort, irritation, and infection.


Expired contact lenses may contain bacteria or fungi that can cause eye infections and other serious eye problems. In Canada, eye infections caused by expired contact lenses are relatively prevalent, and they can lead to vision loss or even blindness if left untreated.

When contact lenses are past their expiration date, they can also become less effective in correcting vision and may not fit properly on the eye. 

Can Pose Risks to Other People

Moreover, wearing expired contact lenses can also affect vision and pose potential risks while driving or operating machinery. Expired lenses may be less effective in correcting vision, and they can cause blurred vision or other visual disturbances that can impair one’s ability to see clearly while driving or working with machinery.

Irritation & Eye Damage

A woman pulling her left lower eyelid down to show her irritated left eye.

If you experience discomfort or vision problems while wearing contact lenses, consult an eye care professional immediately to prevent severe eye damage. Remember, healthy eyes are vital to maintaining a good quality of life, so take care of them, and they will take care of you.

Where to Find More Information

For Canadian contact lens wearers, several resources are available to learn about expiration dates and eye health. The Canadian Association of Optometrists provides information about proper contact lens care and maintenance on its website, including the importance of checking expiration dates. 

Additionally, Health Canada offers guidelines and regulations for the safety and effectiveness of contact lenses sold in Canada.

Quality Care for Your Contact Lenses

If you have any questions or concerns about your contact lens expiration date, it is always best to consult your eye doctor or contact lens manufacturer. They can provide personalized advice and recommendations based on your needs and circumstances. 

Remember, taking care of your contact lenses and ensuring they are not expired is crucial for maintaining healthy vision. Wash your hands before handling your contact, and clean the contact container regularly. Above all, don’t sleep with your contacts in.

If you have further questions, book an appointment with Red Deer Eye Care at one of our 3 locations in Red Deer, Rimbey, and Rocky Mountain House. Our team can help you through every step of your eye care experience. 

Written by Dr. Daryl Berger

Dr. Berger was born and raised in Red Deer. After studying at Red Deer College and the U of A, he graduated with honours from the optometry program at Waterloo in 2007. Daryl enjoys music, cars, biking, hiking, snowboarding and travel. He and his wife, Pamela, have twin boys and a dog named Gus.
instagram facebook facebook2 pinterest twitter google-plus google linkedin2 yelp youtube phone location calendar share2 link star-full star star-half chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up envelope fax