The risks of sleeping in your contacts

Imagine it’s late, you’re really tired and you just want to sleep. You might be tempted to skip removing your contacts and head straight to bed.

But before you climb under the covers, it’s really important that you take your contacts out. Sleeping in contacts can compromise the health of your eyes. More specifically, here’s what can happen:

Your eyes can be deprived of oxygen. Your cornea, the part of your eye you place a contact on top of, needs oxygen from the air. Wearing contacts blocks oxygen from getting to your cornea. This only gets worse when your eyes are closed during sleep.

New blood vessels may start to form on corneas that aren’t getting enough oxygen. This condition, called corneal neovascularization, can cause a permanent reduction in vision, blurry vison or eye infections. The resulting damage can prevent you from wearing contact lenses or being a candidate for LASIK surgery in the future.

You could get a bacterial infection. Sleeping in contacts increases your risk of getting an infection called bacterial keratitis. This condition can cause permanent damage to the cornea. Some people who get bacterial keratitis may require a corneal transplant.

You might get dry eyes. Sleeping in contact lenses can cause dry eyes and increase your risk of having an allergic reaction to your contact lenses. This reaction, called giant papillary conjunctivitis, involves large bumps forming underneath your eyelids, making contact lens wear uncomfortable.

Some contact lenses are approved by the Food and Drug Administration to sleep in. However, when you read the fine print, you’ll find even these lenses can cause complications. Sleeping in these contacts can increase your risk of eye infection by 10 to 15 times compared to not sleeping in contact lenses.

The good news is all of these conditions are preventable by simply taking out your contact lenses before bedtime. Try getting in the routine of taking out and caring for your contacts every night.

If you have any questions, call or stop by our vision clinic.