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We have an affiliate relationship with and receive compensation from companies whose products we review on this site. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

What Happens if You Sleep in Contacts?

Many people wear contact lenses to correct their vision and enjoy the freedom from wearing glasses. However, it is essential to follow proper hygiene and care instructions when it comes to wearing contacts. One common mistake that people make is sleeping in their contact lenses. Let’s explore what happens if you sleep in contacts and why it is crucial to remove them before going to bed.

When you wear contact lenses, your eyes need oxygen to stay healthy. During the day, blinking allows oxygen to reach the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye. However, when you sleep with your contacts in, your eyes are deprived of oxygen, leading to several potential problems.

1. Dryness and Irritation: Sleeping in contacts can cause your eyes to become dry and irritated. The lenses trap moisture against the surface of your eyes, preventing proper hydration. This can lead to discomfort, redness, and even blurred vision.

2. Increased Risk of Infection: When you close your eyes during sleep, the tears that naturally clean and lubricate your eyes are reduced. This lack of tear flow, combined with the presence of contacts, creates an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. Sleeping in contacts increases the risk of developing eye infections such as conjunctivitis or corneal ulcers.

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3. Corneal Hypoxia: Lack of oxygen to the cornea can result in a condition called corneal hypoxia. This occurs when the cornea does not receive enough oxygen to function correctly. Symptoms can include corneal swelling, blurred vision, and even corneal neovascularization (growth of new blood vessels).

4. Contact Lens Discomfort: Sleeping in contacts increases the likelihood of experiencing discomfort while wearing them. The lenses can become warped, causing irritation and a foreign body sensation in the eye. This discomfort can persist even after removing the lenses, making it uncomfortable to wear contacts in the future.

5. Decreased Contact Lens Longevity: Sleeping in your contacts can cause them to deteriorate more quickly. The prolonged exposure to the eye’s natural oils, tears, and other substances can build up on the lens surface, leading to deposits and protein buildup. This reduces the lifespan of the contacts and necessitates more frequent replacements.

6. Reduced Vision Clarity: Wearing contacts for an extended period, including during sleep, can affect the optical quality of the lenses. The accumulation of deposits and protein buildup can lead to hazy vision, reducing the clarity of your vision.

7. Increased Risk of Eye Ulcers: The combination of reduced oxygen and the presence of bacteria can result in corneal ulcers. These painful sores on the cornea can cause severe vision loss and require prompt medical attention.

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Common Questions:

1. Can I sleep in contacts if they are labeled “extended wear”?
Extended wear contacts are designed to be worn continuously, including during sleep. However, it is still essential to follow your eye doctor’s instructions and schedule regular check-ups.

2. What should I do if I accidentally sleep in my contacts?
If you unintentionally sleep in your contacts, remove them immediately upon waking and give your eyes a break. Monitor for any unusual symptoms, and consult with your eye doctor if you experience prolonged discomfort or vision problems.

3. Can I nap with my contacts in?
Even short naps can lead to dryness and discomfort. It is best to remove your contacts before taking a nap.

4. Are there any contacts specifically designed for overnight wear?
Yes, there are contacts specifically designed for overnight wear, known as extended wear lenses. However, it is crucial to consult with your eye doctor before wearing them.

5. How long can I wear daily wear contacts?
Daily wear contacts should be removed every night before going to bed. They are not designed for overnight use.

6. Can I wear contacts while showering or swimming?
It is best to remove your contacts before showering or swimming to avoid the risk of contamination or infection.

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7. How should I clean and store my contacts?
Follow the cleaning and storage instructions provided with your contacts. Use the appropriate contact lens solution and clean your lenses as directed to maintain their hygiene and longevity.

In conclusion, sleeping in contacts can have several negative effects on your eye health. It is essential to remove your contacts before going to bed to allow your eyes to receive proper oxygenation and reduce the risk of infection and discomfort. Always follow your eye doctor’s recommendations and practice good hygiene when wearing contact lenses.