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Is It Really That Bad to Sleep or Shower In Contact Lenses?

Is it safe to wear contact lenses while showering or sleeping?

No. It’s absolutely not safe to wear contacts while immersed in water or when sleeping (unless you have contacts specifically intended for overnight wear). 

Sleeping in your contact lenses can dry out your eyes and potentially harm your vision as a result of infection. Contact lenses should also be kept away from water as it’s a natural breeding ground for bacteria and microorganisms, which can get trapped under the contact lens, putting you at risk of a waterborne eye infection. 

Why Does Sleeping in Contacts Increase the Risk of Infection?

To stay healthy, your corneas require hydration and oxygen. Blinking keeps your eyes wet, and the tears you produce allow oxygen to enter your eyes. 

Sleeping in standard contacts limits the amount of oxygen and hydration that reach your eyes. As a result, your corneas are more dry and susceptible to corneal abrasion, and they have a harder time fighting bacteria, causing your eyes to be more prone to infection. 

If, after sleeping in contact lenses, you experience blurred vision, discharge from your eyes, redness or watering, you may have an eye infection. Left untreated, infection can lead to corneal damage, and—in extreme cases—loss of vision.

What are the Risks of Showering While Wearing Contacts?

Contact lens wearers are more likely to develop keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea, if their lenses come into contact with water. Left untreated, keratitis can cause vision loss. 

In microbial keratitis, microorganisms invade the cornea and cause an infection of the eye. The microorganisms that cause these infections can be found in a variety of water sources, including rivers, lakes and streams, showers, tap, a pool or jacuzzi. Normally, the antimicrobial properties of tears protect your eyes, but that process is hindered by contact lenses.

Furthermore, contact lenses can stick to your eye when exposed to water, potentially leading to corneal abrasions. These scratches may enable microorganisms found in non-sterile water to penetrate the cornea and cause an infection.

Eye Care Tips for Contact Lens Wearers

  • In order to avoid eye infections, it’s important to follow the tips below. However, do not consider these tips as medical advice. Always speak to your eye doctor for individual advice on wearing and caring for your contact lenses.
  • Avoid water while wearing contacts. Keep your contacts away from water. Make sure to remove your contacts before showering, bathing, or swimming. Don’t rinse or store your contacts in water, and if it does occur, make sure to throw away or disinfect them thoroughly.
  • Don’t sleep in your contacts. Avoid wearing your contacts when sleeping, unless you have special overnight lenses or your eye doctor has told you that it’s safe to do so.
  • Use clean hands. Always wash your hands and dry them thoroughly before touching your contacts.
  • Follow product instructions. Always follow the directions when cleaning or disinfecting your contacts.
  • Store contacts properly. Make sure your contacts are exclusively stored in fresh contact lens solution. Never reuse old solution.
  • Wear contacts for the proper length of time. Avoid wearing your contacts for longer than the recommended time period.

So, remove those lenses before going to bed and showering. If you experience symptoms like eye pain, discharge, or sensitivity to light, immediately remove your lenses and consult Advanced Eyecare Center in Manhattan Beach without delay.


Who can wear contact lenses?

Almost everyone can wear contact lenses, no matter their age, prescription or lifestyle.

What if I accidentally fall asleep with my contacts?

If you fall asleep with your contacts on, you may wake up with them attached to your eye’s surface. If they don’t come out easily, blink and apply lens drops until the surface of your eye is moist. That should make it easier to remove the lenses.

Sleeping in Contact Lenses

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 Manhattan Beach, 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 Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, , and , California.


At Advanced Eyecare Center, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 310-620-1345 or book an appointment online to see one of our Manhattan Beach eye doctors.

Want to Learn More? Read on!

Why Own More Than One Pair of Eyeglasses

Why Do My Contact Lenses Feel So Scratchy?

12 Tips for Optimal Eye Health


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