Contact lenses are fantastic little discs – giving you clear, comfy, and wide vision instead of bulky eyeglasses. However, most people forget that contact lenses are also medical devices, which means they come with a degree of risk to your visual health when not used properly. When we fit patients with contact lenses in our eye care centers in El Segundo, Redondo Beach, , and , California, our staff provides detailed care instructions on how to keep eyes and vision safe! It’s essential to listen to the guidelines for contact lenses provided by your eye doctor.
High Risk of Infection
Sleeping in your contact lenses raises your risk of eye infection considerably. Think about it, during the day, dust and other pollutants get into your eyes and under your contacts. When you sleep, you shut your eyelids over all of this debris (holding it close to your eyes), and less oxygen reaches your eye surface. Altogether, this creates an ideal environment for bacterial and viral infections to grow.
Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, is one of the most common eye infections. It involves a swelling of the conjunctiva that covers the white of your eye and lines your eyelid. Pink eye is usually itchy and uncomfortable, and often causes oozing discharge and bloodshot eyes.
Giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC) is another type of eye infection that’s often associated with dozing in your contacts. In this condition, painful bumps emerge on the inner surface of your eyelid.
Keratitis is the most serious, potentially sight-threatening form of eye infection that you’re risking. Caused by bacteria, amoebae, or fungi, keratitis affects the cornea, causing intense pain and light sensitivity - and also possibly damaging your vision permanently, because corneal ulcers can form. It’s typical for the symptoms to appear suddenly as you sleep. According to the Center for Contact Lens Research (CCLR), sleeping in your contacts poses a 10x greater risk of keratitis!
Dried Out Contact Lenses
If you’ve ever fallen asleep while wearing contact lenses, you’re probably familiar with the feeling of dried out lenses stuck on your eyeballs. It can take multiple applications of lubricating eye drops until they’re moist enough to remove from your eyes. While they’re stuck, blinking can be painful and vision is typically blurred. Also, dried out contact lenses can cause abrasions on the lining of your eyelid that hurt.
Eyes Need to Breathe
Even if you don’t get a full-fledged eye infection from sleeping with contacts, you can still irritate your cornea, the surface of your eye. That’s because even oxygen-permeable lenses block your eyes from “breathing” normally.
Prevent the Pain – Don’t Sleep in Your Contacts!
Even if you’ve done it before and had no problems, that doesn’t mean sleeping with contact lenses is safe. It just means you’re gambling with the odds of eye infection and damage to your vision – which is a risky game!
If you experience any eye irritation, inflammation, redness, or blurry vision with contact lenses, schedule an eye exam in one of our conveniently located optometry practices in El Segundo, Redondo Beach, , and , California.
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