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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 Your Contacts?

Contact lenses have become a popular alternative to eyeglasses for many people around the world. They provide convenience and clear vision without the hassle of wearing glasses. However, wearing contact lenses requires proper care and maintenance to avoid potential eye problems. One common question that arises is what happens if you sleep in your contacts?

Sleeping in contact lenses is generally not recommended by eye care professionals due to the potential risks involved. When you close your eyes during sleep, your contact lenses create a barrier between your cornea and the oxygen supply from the air. This can lead to a variety of complications that can range from mild discomfort to severe eye infections. Here are some potential consequences of sleeping in your contacts:

1. Dryness and Irritation: Sleeping in contact lenses can cause your eyes to become dry and irritated. The lenses can absorb your natural tear film, leading to discomfort and redness upon waking up.

2. Corneal Hypoxia: When you sleep in your contacts, the oxygen supply to your cornea is reduced. This can result in a condition called corneal hypoxia, which causes swelling, blurred vision, and potential damage to the cornea.

3. Bacterial Infections: Wearing contacts overnight increases the risk of bacterial infections such as keratitis. These infections can cause pain, redness, sensitivity to light, and even vision loss if left untreated.

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4. Corneal Ulcers: Prolonged contact lens wear, especially during sleep, can lead to corneal ulcers, which are open sores on the cornea. Corneal ulcers can be extremely painful and may require intensive treatment to prevent complications.

5. Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis (GPC): GPC is an inflammatory condition that affects the inner surface of the eyelids. Sleeping in contact lenses can increase the risk of developing GPC, causing itching, redness, and the formation of small bumps on the inner eyelid.

6. Corneal Abrasions: Sleeping in your contacts increases the likelihood of corneal abrasions, which are scratches on the surface of the cornea. Corneal abrasions can cause discomfort, sensitivity to light, and a feeling that something is stuck in your eye.

7. Contact Lens Discomfort: Even if you don’t experience any immediate complications, sleeping in your contacts can still lead to general discomfort. It can make your lenses feel dry, cause blurry vision, and increase the risk of lens deposits and protein buildup.

Common Questions and Answers:

1. Can I sleep in my contact lenses occasionally?
Sleeping in your contacts occasionally is not recommended, as even one night can increase your risk of complications. It is best to remove your lenses before sleeping, even if they are approved for extended wear.

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2. Can I use extended wear contact lenses for sleeping?
Extended wear contact lenses are designed for overnight use, but it is still important to follow the instructions provided by your eye care professional. Even with extended wear lenses, the risk of complications is higher compared to daily wear lenses.

3. What should I do if I accidentally fall asleep with my contacts?
If you accidentally fall asleep with your contacts, remove them as soon as you wake up. Use lubricating eye drops to help relieve any dryness or discomfort. If you experience persistent symptoms, consult your eye care professional.

4. How can I prevent complications from sleeping in contacts?
The best way to prevent complications is to follow proper contact lens care and maintenance guidelines. Remove your contacts before sleeping, clean and disinfect them daily, and replace them as recommended by your eye care professional.

5. Can I wear contact lenses while napping?
It is generally recommended to remove your contact lenses before napping, as even short periods of sleep can increase the risk of complications. If you must wear lenses while napping, consult your eye care professional for guidance.

6. Are there any types of contact lenses that are safe for sleeping?
There are specific types of contact lenses approved for extended wear, which are designed to be worn continuously for a specific duration. However, it is still essential to follow the instructions provided by your eye care professional.

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7. What are the signs of an eye infection or complication?
Signs of an eye infection or complication include redness, pain, sensitivity to light, blurry vision, discharge, and a feeling of something stuck in your eye. If you experience any of these symptoms, remove your lenses and seek prompt medical attention.

In conclusion, sleeping in your contact lenses can lead to a range of potential complications, from dryness and irritation to severe infections and ulcers. It is crucial to prioritize proper contact lens care and follow the guidelines provided by your eye care professional to maintain optimal eye health.