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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 Your Contacts?

Wearing contact lenses has become a popular choice for vision correction due to their convenience and comfort. However, many people tend to overlook the importance of proper care and maintenance when it comes to wearing contacts. One common mistake is sleeping in contact lenses, which can have serious consequences for your eye health. In this article, we will explore what happens when you sleep in your contacts and provide answers to some common questions.

When you close your eyes to sleep, the oxygen supply to your cornea decreases naturally. Wearing contact lenses further reduces the oxygen flow to your eyes, as they act as a barrier between your cornea and the surrounding air. This lack of oxygen can lead to various complications, such as:

1. Corneal Edema: Sleeping in contacts can cause swelling of the cornea due to the accumulation of fluid. This results in blurry vision, eye redness, and discomfort.

2. Corneal Ulcers: Lack of oxygen and increased bacterial growth can lead to corneal ulcers, which are painful open sores on the cornea. If left untreated, they can cause permanent vision loss.

3. Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis (GPC): GPC is an allergic reaction caused by the buildup of protein deposits on the contact lens. Sleeping in contacts increases the chances of developing GPC, resulting in itching, redness, and discomfort.

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4. Dry Eyes: Contact lenses can cause dryness even during the day, but wearing them overnight exacerbates this issue. Dry eyes can lead to irritation, redness, and a gritty sensation.

5. Contact Lens-Related Eye Infections: Sleeping in contacts significantly increases the risk of eye infections, such as bacterial keratitis. This infection can lead to severe pain, sensitivity to light, and even vision loss.

6. Corneal Neovascularization: Inadequate oxygen supply can stimulate the growth of new blood vessels in the cornea. This condition, known as corneal neovascularization, can cause vision problems and other complications.

7. Contact Lens Discomfort: Sleeping in contacts can leave your lenses dry, stiff, and uncomfortable to wear. This discomfort may persist even after removing the lenses, affecting your overall eye health and comfort.

Common Questions and Answers:

1. Can I sleep in my contacts occasionally?
It is highly discouraged to sleep in your contacts, even occasionally. However, some contact lenses are specifically designed for extended wear and can be worn overnight. Consult your eye care professional to determine if you are a suitable candidate for such lenses.

2. What should I do if I accidentally fall asleep with my contacts?
If you accidentally fall asleep with your contacts, remove them immediately upon waking up. Give your eyes some time to rest before wearing them again, and monitor your eyes for any discomfort or redness.

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3. How can I minimize the risk of complications from sleeping in contacts?
The best way to minimize the risk is to follow proper contact lens care guidelines. Avoid sleeping in your contacts, clean and disinfect them regularly, and replace them as recommended by your eye care professional.

4. Are there any alternatives to contact lenses for overnight vision correction?
Yes, there are alternatives such as glasses and orthokeratology. Orthokeratology involves wearing special contact lenses overnight to reshape the cornea temporarily, providing clear vision during the day without the need for any corrective lenses.

5. Can I wear my contacts for naps?
Even short naps can cause complications when wearing contacts. It is best to remove your lenses before taking a nap to allow your eyes to breathe and prevent any potential risks.

6. Are all contact lenses suitable for overnight wear?
No, not all contact lenses are suitable for overnight wear. Some are specifically designed for extended wear, while others are intended for daily wear only. Consult your eye care professional to determine the best type of lenses for your specific needs.

7. What should I do if I experience discomfort or vision problems after sleeping in contacts?
If you experience discomfort or vision problems after sleeping in contacts, remove them immediately and consult your eye care professional. They will be able to evaluate your condition and provide appropriate treatment if necessary.

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In conclusion, sleeping in your contacts can have serious consequences for your eye health. It is crucial to follow proper contact lens care guidelines and avoid wearing them overnight to minimize the risk of complications. If you have any concerns or questions regarding contact lens wear, always consult your eye care professional for guidance.
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