Eye doctors say it’s not a great idea to sleep with your contacts in. Even napping with contact lenses in your eyes can lead to irritation or damage. When you wear your contacts to bed, your corneas can’t get the oxygen they need and germs can thrive. That can lead to infections and other serious eye conditions we’ve outlined for you below. Although you might be tempted to forgo taking them out when you’re at your sleepiest, it’s important to grab your case and remove your contacts before your head hits the pillow.
How can sleeping in contacts hurt your eyes?
Here are three serious risks associated with sleeping in contact lenses:
1. Hypoxia of the eye
Eyes, just like the rest of the body, require oxygen to remain healthy. But rather than receiving air through the lungs, our eyes absorb oxygen when they’re open. Because of this, when a person wears contacts while they’re sleeping, they reduce the amount of oxygen that can reach their eyes, resulting in a condition called corneal hypoxia. The effects of corneal hypoxia
can be minor to severe, with some extreme cases causing corneal scarring.
2. Corneal ulcers
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology
, contact lens wearers are also at risk of developing corneal ulcers. Bacteria are a common cause, and they can be transferred from your contacts to the cornea if you wear the lenses for an extended period of time. How can you reduce your risk of a corneal ulcer? Wash your hands before handling your contacts and avoid sleeping in them.
Keratitis is the irritation of eye tissue and is usually caused by bacteria. It is also one of the most common problems associated with contact lenses. Because closing your eyes for extended periods of time limits the amount of oxygen and moisture reaching your eyes, their ability to fight infection is reduced. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology
, if you exhibit any symptoms associated with Keratitis—like blurred vision or increased sensitivity to light—you should see your eye doctor as soon as possible, since some eye infections can cause serious vision loss. And be sure to take out your contacts before you snooze!
Can you sleep in 30-day contacts?
Some contact lenses are designed for extended wear. They’re thinner and allow an increased amount of oxygen to reach the cornea, lowering the risk of infection. You’ll want to ask your doctor for contact lenses approved for continuous wear and confirm whether they recommend sleeping with them in.
Our conclusion - Talk to your doctor
When in doubt, you should always follow a product’s instructions and your eye doctor’s advice. Wear contacts for the recommended amount of time and keep them clean. Unless your doctor has said otherwise, take them out when it’s time for bed.
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