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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.

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What Happens When You Sleep in Contacts

Contact lenses have revolutionized the way we correct our vision. They provide a convenient and comfortable alternative to eyeglasses, allowing us to see clearly without the hassle of frames. However, it is essential to follow proper care and usage instructions to avoid any potential complications. One such instruction is to never sleep in your contact lenses. Let’s explore what happens when you ignore this advice and the potential risks involved.

When you sleep in contact lenses, you are essentially blocking the flow of oxygen to your eyes. During the day, your eyes receive oxygen directly from the air, but when you close your eyes for an extended period, the contact lenses act as a barrier. This lack of oxygen can lead to a condition called corneal edema, where the cornea swells due to fluid accumulation. This swelling can cause discomfort, redness, and blurry vision upon waking up.

Another consequence of sleeping in contact lenses is the increased risk of eye infections. When you close your eyes, it creates a warm and moist environment that is ideal for bacterial growth. The contact lenses trap these bacteria against your eyes, increasing the likelihood of infection. Bacterial keratitis is one such infection that can cause severe pain, redness, sensitivity to light, and even vision loss if left untreated.

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Furthermore, wearing contact lenses for an extended period, such as overnight, can lead to the accumulation of protein deposits on the lenses. Proteins naturally present in your tears can stick to the lenses, creating a breeding ground for bacteria and reducing the clarity of your vision. This buildup can also cause discomfort and dryness in your eyes.

Now, let’s address some common questions about sleeping in contact lenses:

1. Can I sleep in extended wear contact lenses?
Extended wear contact lenses are specifically designed to be worn overnight. However, it is still crucial to follow your eye care professional’s instructions and replace them as recommended.

2. What happens if I accidentally fall asleep with my contact lenses?
Occasional lapses may not lead to immediate complications, but it is best to remove them as soon as possible to minimize the risks.

3. Can I take a nap with my contact lenses?
Napping with contact lenses is generally not recommended. Even a short nap can disrupt the oxygen flow to your eyes and increase the risk of infection.

4. How long can I wear my contact lenses during the day?
The duration varies depending on the type of contact lenses. Daily wear lenses should be removed before sleeping, while extended wear lenses can be worn continuously for a specified period.

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5. What should I do if I experience discomfort after sleeping with contact lenses?
If you experience any discomfort, redness, or blurry vision after sleeping in contact lenses, remove them immediately and consult your eye care professional.

6. Are there any contact lenses designed for overnight use?
Yes, extended wear contact lenses are specifically designed for overnight use. However, they still carry a risk of complications, and it is essential to follow proper cleaning and replacement schedules.

7. Can I wear my contact lenses while swimming or in a hot tub?
It is not advisable to wear contact lenses while swimming or in a hot tub, as it increases the risk of eye infections from waterborne bacteria.

In conclusion, sleeping in contact lenses can lead to various complications, including corneal edema, eye infections, and protein buildup. To maintain healthy eyes and vision, it is crucial to follow the recommended guidelines provided by your eye care professional and avoid wearing contact lenses while sleeping.
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