Disposable lenses are safer and more convenient than other extended wear contact lenses, according to optometrists attending a recent symposium sponsored by the American Optometric Association.

Early concerns that wearers might try to save money by stretching wearing time have not materialized, said Dr. Melvin Remba of Los Angeles, chairman of the group's contact lens division."Because the per lens cost is so low - it comes out to a dollar a day over a year's period - patient compliance is high," Remba said.

Although the initial cost of disposable lenses is higher than others, savings on cleaning solutions and insurance premiums against loss reduce the cost to that of conventional lenses, the association says. However, the wearer must visit his optometrist every three months for a checkup and new supply.

Disposable contact lenses are designed for a full week of continuous wear with minimal handling. Other extended wear lenses are approved for up to 30 days but must be removed at least once every week or two for cleaning and disinfecting. Improper care of extended wear lenses, the association says, is one of the major causes of eye infections and chronic red eye.

Disposable lenses currently available correct only nearsightedness. Also, only one manufacturer is marketing disposable lenses nationwide.