Anyone who wears contact lenses knows that they can sometimes be a hassle. Although they have the best intentions to take them out every night, many people find themselves occasionally sleeping with contacts in. But this is a big mistake. Even if the lenses are “extended wear” or designed to be “slept in”, sleeping in your contacts regularly or even occasionally, can cause damage. Nothing is healthier for the eyes or better for vision than removing the contact lenses at bedtime. So if you’ve ever wondered, “Can I sleep with contacts in?” - the answer is always “no.” Here’s why, along with some eye health tips to keep your eyes in top shape.
1. Sleeping with contacts deprives your cornea of the oxygen it needs.
Your cornea needs oxygen in order to be healthy, and wearing contacts for extended periods blocks your cornea from getting it. This can actually result in corneal neovascularization, which is an overgrowth of blood vessels in the cornea. The outcome? Inflammation and, if too much damage occurs, your eyes may not be able to be fitted for contact lenses at all.
2. It can increase eye infections.
Think about a day in the life of your contacts. They’re in your eyes all day long, being exposed to germs, debris, and other elements. When you fail to remove and clean them at night, you’re essentially keeping all of that unclean material trapped in your eye for eight or more hours.
This greatly increases your chances of getting an eye infection, which can be painful and irritating, not to mention a huge hassle. It’s very common for people who sleep in contacts to end up experiencing something called microbial keratitis, an infection of the cornea, caused by bacteria, fungi, amoebas or viruses.
3. It can make your eyes dry and/or scratched.
Furthermore, sleeping with contacts can dry out your eyes significantly (thanks to the lens getting in the way of your eye’s natural lubrication and, again, interfering with oxygen reaching the cornea). Your contacts can also scratch your eye during the night, as they may have debris on them and move around during sleep.
So, how can you keep your eyes healthy as a contact lens wearer? Here are the best eye health tips:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before removing your contact lenses (and before putting them back in).
- Remove your lenses at night, and place them in a case with fresh solution. This case needs to be cleaned daily and replaced often. Then close the case.
- See your eye doctor every year for an evaluation, and contact lens fitting.
Any questions? Please contact us anytime to schedule an eye exam or contact lens evaluation.