For most people who wear contact lenses, the experience becomes a normal part of life. We hardly give a thought to the fact that every day we introduce into our eyes these things that are essentially foreign bodies.
We barely give our contacts a thought, often to the point of falling asleep in them, either because we’ve forgotten they are even there – or we are just too tired to go through the routine of removing and cleaning them. And what could it hurt, right?
There are reasons your eye doctor recommends never sleeping in contacts
A lot is going on in your eyes when you sleep in your contacts. And did you know that the FDA actually classifies contacts as a drug? That’s because even though you don’t ingest contacts, your body, specifically your eyes, have to adjust to wearing them.
Wearers also know that sometimes their contacts cause their eyes to burn and feel dry. When we sleep, any existing eye irritation or lack of moisture can be exacerbated by our contacts, but that’s not all:
- When we sleep, the cornea isn’t exposed to it’s usual amount of needed oxygen; contact lenses further limit that oxygen
- Chances of developing an infection increase when eyes are closed because tears aren’t flushing away bacteria.
- Opportunistic bacteria can eat away at the cornea.
- Vision can be harmed.
One occasional night isn’t the end of the world
The healthiest option is to take your contact lenses out and clean them every day. If you accidentally fall asleep in your lenses only rarely, you aren’t likely to experience any serious problems. If sleeping in your contacts becomes a habit — or if you always sleep in them because you think it’s no big deal – you’re increasing your risk of a serious health problem.
See your eye doctor right away if…
- Your eyes are extremely red and bloodshot
- It feels like there’s something in one or both eyes
- Your eyes feel constantly irritated
- Your eyes are extremely light sensitive
- Your eyelids are inflamed
- Your vision seems off