Almost every user of contact lenses has asked or at least wondered about sleeping with your contact lenses in. Well, as appealing as the idea of falling asleep without doing the regular routine of washing hands, handling the lenses, cleaning them, and putting them in their case, the consequences of sleeping in your contact lenses can be very dangerous.
The reason why it is unrecommended is that whenever you put on your contact lenses, oxygen cannot reach your eyes, meaning that your eyes will not be able to fight off the germs that enter the eyes from the wind, dust, and debris.
When those germs are not fought off, the irritation starts, you will unconsciously rub your eyes and make the infection even worse. And from that point on, the risks opposing your eyes' health rapidly increase.
In this piece, we will go through the risks of sleeping with contact lenses, and what to do if you have accidentally fallen asleep wearing your contact lenses.
What Are the Risks of Sleeping with Contact Lenses?
Sleeping while wearing your contact lenses can be very harmful to your eyes as it is associated with very serious risks, here are the reasons why:
- Sleeping in your contact lenses can lead to “ Hypoxia of the eye”. Corneal hypoxia is something that can affect any individual who wears contact lenses. The symptoms can range from simple irritation to permanent ocular damage and loss of sight.
This case is mainly caused by sleeping in your contact lenses as it stops the oxygen from reaching the eyes
- Wearing contact lenses for too long can lead to irritation of the eye tissue, which is also known as “Keratitis”. This complication can lead to blindness very quickly if not treated immediately. Therefore, it is always good to give your eyes some rest, especially at bedtime
- Due to touching the eyes too much and the constant irritation, people who wear contact lenses are quite prone to developing “Corneal ulcers”, which is damage caused to the outer layer of the cornea, allowing germs and bacteria to get inside the eyes worsening the infection
- Red, dry, and gritty eyes are also common results of sleeping with contacts in. You will feel some pain trying to open your eyes first thing in the morning especially around the inner corners of your eyes and along the lashes. You will also feel a crusty buildup around your eyes
- As contact lenses collect debris, dust, and dirt. It can also harbor serious infections if they are not cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis and handled properly with clean hands
One of the most common infections is known as the “Pink eye”, it is called so because it causes redness. It is not normally painful and can be treated easily with over-the-counter eye drops.
Can I Nap in Daily Disposable Contact Lenses?
Unfortunately, it can cause the same harmful consequences despite the fact that they can be disposed of at the end of the day. Sleeping with contact lenses even for a short nap can still irritate and harm your eyes. So, whether you use daily disposables or monthly contacts, they still need to be taken off even before a short nap.
What Happens If I Sleep in Contacts for 1 Hour?
Sleeping in your contacts even for less than an hour can be very harmful to your eyes. Everyone has different levels of sensitivity and can react differently and at different speeds. However, no matter how fast your eyes react, it is always bad to sleep in contact lenses even if it was for just an hour.
Is There a Type of Contact Lenses to Sleep in?
There is a type of contact lens that is designed for people who lead a busy lifestyle and cannot wear and take off the contacts daily. The extended wear lenses allow you to spend up to 30 days (or a specific period of time) without taking off your contact lenses including nighttime.
The reason why these specific types of contact lenses are ok to sleep in is that they are made from silicone hydrogel, a material that allows more oxygen into the eyes to fight off infections and stay hydrated.
However, it is very important to speak to your optician about it first and see if the extended wear lenses are good for you. Keep in mind that you will need to check on your eyes every day to see if there is an infection or irritation.
On any given day while wearing the extended wear lenses, if you felt any discomfort or if you felt dirt is built-up on the lens, you can take them off to clean them.
I’ve Slept in My Contact Lenses, What to Do?
Anyone can fall asleep wearing their contact lenses, naps know no rules. Therefore, here is the correct thing to do if you ever fall asleep in your contact lenses.
First of all, remember not to remove them right away when you wake up. As you wake up, you will feel that your eyes are very dry and irritated. You might also feel a build-up of mucus on your eyes. So, to make your eyes more moist before you take off the lenses, drink a cup of water, blink a few times, and give your eyes some time to naturally remoisturize.
Wash your hands before touching the lenses, take them off and dispose of them if they are daily disposables, disinfect and clean them if they are monthly or weekly lenses. Put the contact lenses in a peroxide solution or in a multi-purpose solution to disinfect them for at least six hours.
You should not wear your contact lenses for the rest of the day as your eyes will be already irritated and red, therefore, you need to allow your eyes some time to recover before wearing contact lenses again. If you have a pair of glasses for emergencies, put them on instead.
Our eyes are very sensitive and they are exposed to plenty of harmful factors such as dust, wind, and debris. They need all the oxygen possible to fight off all those factors and to stay healthy. Therefore, if you regularly wear contact lenses, make sure to never sleep in them.