What Happens if You Sleep With Your Contacts In?
Wearing contact lenses has become increasingly popular over the years as an alternative to glasses. They provide convenience and enhanced vision for those with refractive errors. However, many contact lens wearers may be tempted to sleep with their lenses in, either due to forgetfulness or simply because they feel comfortable. But is it safe to sleep with your contacts in? Let’s delve into the potential risks and consequences.
When you close your eyes at night, your eyelids create a warm and moist environment, which is ideal for bacteria to thrive. Wearing contact lenses overnight restricts the flow of oxygen to the cornea, making it difficult for the eyes to breathe and flush out debris. As a result, sleeping with your contacts in can lead to various complications, including:
1. Corneal Infections: Sleeping with contacts increases the risk of developing corneal infections such as microbial keratitis. Bacteria or fungi can adhere to the lenses, causing redness, pain, and vision problems. Severe cases can even lead to corneal ulcers or permanent vision loss.
2. Dry Eyes: Contacts can prevent the natural lubrication of the eyes, leading to dryness and discomfort. This can manifest as a gritty or burning sensation, excessive tearing, or blurry vision.
3. Hypoxia: The cornea relies on oxygen from the air to remain healthy. Wearing contacts overnight reduces the flow of oxygen to the cornea, leading to hypoxia, which can cause corneal swelling, inflammation, and increased risk of infection.
4. Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis (GPC): Prolonged contact lens wear can cause GPC, an inflammatory condition characterized by redness, itching, and the formation of bumps under the upper eyelid. GPC can make wearing contacts uncomfortable or even impossible.
5. Corneal Neovascularization: Insufficient oxygen supply to the cornea can trigger the growth of new blood vessels, a condition called corneal neovascularization. This can result in blurred vision and increased sensitivity to light.
6. Contact Lens Intolerance: Sleeping with contacts regularly can lead to contact lens intolerance, where your eyes become increasingly sensitive to wearing lenses, making it difficult or uncomfortable to wear them during the day.
7. Increased Risk of Eye Injuries: Wearing contacts overnight also increases the likelihood of getting dust, debris, or foreign objects trapped under the lens, which can cause irritation, corneal scratches, or abrasions.
Common Questions and Answers:
1. Can I sleep with my contact lenses for short naps?
It is generally not recommended to sleep with your contacts in, even for short naps, as it increases the risk of eye infections and complications.
2. Are there specific contacts designed for overnight wear?
Yes, there are specific contacts called extended wear lenses that are designed for overnight wear. However, they should only be worn as directed by your eye care professional.
3. What should I do if I accidentally fall asleep with my contacts in?
If you accidentally fall asleep with your contacts in, remove them as soon as you wake up and give your eyes a break by wearing glasses for at least a few hours.
4. Can I wear contacts while swimming or in a hot tub?
It is not recommended to wear contacts while swimming or in a hot tub, as they can trap waterborne bacteria against your eyes, increasing the risk of eye infections.
5. How often should I replace my contact lenses?
Contact lens replacement schedules vary depending on the type of lens. It is important to follow the recommended replacement schedule provided by your eye care professional.
6. Are there any alternative options for overnight vision correction?
Yes, there are alternative options such as orthokeratology (Ortho-K) or refractive surgery, which can provide temporary or permanent vision correction without the need for daytime contact lens wear.
7. Can I wear contacts if I have dry eyes?
If you have dry eyes, it is essential to consult an eye care professional who can recommend specific contact lenses or provide alternative solutions to ensure your comfort and eye health.
In conclusion, sleeping with your contacts in can have severe consequences for your eye health. It is crucial to follow proper contact lens hygiene, adhere to recommended wearing schedules, and consult an eye care professional for any concerns or issues you may have. Remember, your eyes deserve the utmost care and attention.