5 Reasons Not to Sleep in Your Contact Lenses

Reasons why you should not sleep with your contacts

If you wear contacts, it can be a pain to take them off at night and put them back in the next morning. Why not wear them to bed? Or maybe you’re just really tired one night and crash on the couch before you can go through your nightly routines. Does it matter if you don’t get your contacts out? It all depends on the type of contact lenses! We are capable of fitting extended wear contact lenses that are approved of for sleep, but many people still have regular contacts, and fall asleep in them often. Contact lenses are great, but they are the breeding grounds for bacteria, especially if you don’t take them out to soak in cleaning solution. Not only do they contain germs, but because they sit on and cover up the surface of the eyes, they also block out much needed oxygen from the eyes.

Common Contact Lens Risks

Wearing your contacts overnight, even with extended-wear lenses, has the same potentially devastating consequences as over-wearing your contacts. Keeping them on overnight can cause serious eye problems. Below are the five reasons why you shouldn’t sleep in your contact lenses:
  1. Eye Infection. As with any other part of your body, the eyes become weak and vulnerable to infections when they are robbed of essential nutrients. The main nutrient that your eyes need to be healthy is oxygen, but contact lenses can keep the eyes from getting the amount they need. Wearing your lenses overnight or longer than what is recommended creates a more hospitable environment for bacteria to thrive. The combination of a weakened eye due to the lack of oxygen and the added germs from the contacts themselves give your eyes a greater chance of infections.
  2. Red Eye. Just as annoying as the watering, scratching and redness of pink eye is the red eye that is caused from prolonged wearing of contact lenses. The occurrence of red eye among those who over-wear their contacts is so frequent, there is a condition for it called CLARE, which stands for Contact Lens Acute Red Eye.
  3. Contacts will no longer fit. Wearing contacts for long periods of time keeps the eye from getting much-needed oxygen. To compensate for the lack of oxygen, an over-abundance of new blood vessel growth in your cornea can occur, causing the cornea to become inflamed. This is called corneal neovascularization. If your cornea gets too inflamed or misshaped, it becomes difficult for your eye care professional to properly fit you with the right contact lenses.
  4. Won’t be able to wear contacts anymore. If your cornea gets too swollen or misshapen, it is possible that there will be no contacts that will properly fit your eye. The damage could also be bad enough that the continuance of wearing contacts may lead to blindness. For these reasons you may never be able to wear contacts anymore.
  5. Keratitis. This is the inflammation of your cornea, or the clear, front surface of your eye. The symptoms of keratitis include blurred vision, sensitivity to light, tearing, redness and pain. This condition is serious and if it isn’t treated can lead to blindness.

Protect Your Eyes

Taking proper care of your eyes is important. Though it may be tempting to leave your contact lenses in overnight, you must be aware of the risks you’re taking. Contacts are great alternatives to glasses but they can greatly damage your eyes if left in longer than what is recommended. Even if you use FDA-approved extended-wear contact lenses, you should take them out every night before going to bed. That way your eyes can get oxygen and your contacts will sit in solution long enough to get thoroughly cleansed. If you want to learn more about extended-wear contact lenses and the risks of wearing them overnight, contact us and we’d be happy to discuss your questions and concerns.  We can purposely fit some patients into extended wear contact lenses for sleeping. We also offer overnight vision correction services that can be effective in correcting nearsightedness.