Like many contact lens wearers, you may have fallen asleep with your contacts in during an accidental nap or after a long, tiring day. While this is not the end of the world in most cases, making a habit of it can pose dangerous risks for your eyes. Let’s explore in more detail why you shouldn’t sleep with contact lenses.
What Happens If You Sleep with Contacts In?
Sleeping with your contact lenses can increase your risk of an eye infection by six to eight times. Types of infections include bacterial keratitis, acanthamoeba keratitis, and fungal keratitis, all of which can be caused by bacteria, microbes, or fungi found in the environment or your body.
In the rarest and most serious cases, conditions like these can cause vision loss and permanently damage your cornea.
Why Does the Risk of Eye Infection Increase?
Every day, your eyes encounter microbes from the environment. When you are awake, blinking produces tear fluid and fresh oxygen, which helps to fight bacteria.
Without enough oxygen or hydration, your cornea (the transparent outer layer at the front of your eye) may lose its ability to regenerate new cells, consequently lowering its effectiveness in protecting against microbes. When these defence mechanisms are absent, it becomes easier for infections to grow.
Since your contact lenses fit tightly over your cornea, there is less room for tear fluid and new oxygen. Furthermore, when you sleep, it becomes even harder to defend against microbes because you aren’t blinking.
What to Do if You Sleep with Contacts In
The good news is that, in most cases, falling asleep with your contact lenses once in a while may not be a cause for worry.
In the event that this happens, ensure that you remove your contacts as soon as you wake up. If they feel stuck due to the lack of oxygen and hydration, try not to force them out. Instead, lubricate your eyes with drops, blink to permeate the moisture, and remove them once the lenses feel maneuverable.
Once you remove them, give your eyes a break by leaving them out for the rest of the day, and monitor how you feel. If you show any signs of infection like eye discomfort, redness, excess tearing, discharge, sensitivity to light, or blurred vision, contact your doctor immediately. Ensure to bring your contacts with you to get the proper testing and treatment.
Healthy vision with contact lenses starts with maintaining appropriate handling practices. At Laurier Optical, our specialists are here to assist you in taking the proper measures with your contacts. Reach out to us today, so we can help you safeguard your eye health.