Extended wear has long been the 'holy grail' of contact lenses by virtue of the increased convenience and freedom of lifestyle which they accord; however, this modality enjoyed only limited market success during the last quarter of the 20th century. The introduction of silicone hydrogel materials into the market at the beginning of this century heralded the promise of successful extended wear due to the superior oxygen performance of this lens type. To assess patterns of contact lens fitting, including extended wear, over the past decade, up to 1000 survey forms were sent to contact lens fitters in Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, the UK and the USA each year between 2000 and 2009. Practitioners were asked to record data relating to the first 10 contact lens fits or refits performed after receiving the survey form. Analysis of returned forms revealed that, averaged over this period, 9% of all soft lenses prescribed were for extended wear, with national figures ranging from 2% in Japan to 17% in Norway. The trend over the past decade has been for an increase from about 5% of all soft lens fits in 2000 to a peak of between 9 and 12% between 2002 and 2007, followed by a decline to around 7% in 2009. A person receiving extended wear lenses is likely to be an older female who is being refitted with silicone hydrogel lenses for full-time wear. Although extended wear has yet again failed to fulfil the promise of being the dominant contact lens wearing modality, it is still a viable option for many people. © 2010 British Contact Lens Association.