When patients first get contact lenses, they have the best intentions to keep up with the hygiene regimen recommended by their doctor. Eventually though, the newness of having contact lenses can wear off and removing them at the end of the day can seem like a chore to many. I also notice an increase of patients who are experiencing irritation in the eyes as a result of complications with their contact lenses. For these reasons, I thought it was a good time to share some information about why sleeping in your contacts is a risky idea and you should only be doing it if your doctor instructs you to do so.
Your Eyes Need to Breath
Your cornea needs oxygen:
The cornea (the transparent layer covering your pupil), needs oxygen to stay healthy and functioning. Contact lenses stop the flow of oxygen into the cornea. Even if the contact lenses are permeable, meaning they allow for airflow into the eye, it may not be enough.
Your eyes need airflow:
Without blood vessels the cornea must get most of its oxygen directly from the atmosphere. When you sleep in contacts, your eyelids are closed for 6-8 hours making it even harder for any airflow to enter the eye.
Bacteria and germs:
Additionally, if you’ve been wearing your contacts all day, chances are they have collected bacteria and germs. This can lead to infection and irritation, potentially resulting in permanent vision loss.
Keratitis is known as the inflammation of the cornea.It is defined as “an inflammation involving bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites” and it is often a result of a bacterial infection as a result of wearing contact lenses. If untreated or severe, it may lead to loss of vision.
Symptoms and signs of Keratitis:
● Eye redness
● Eye pain
● Blurring vision
● Light sensitivity
● Cornea looks grey (if severe)
● An Australian study found that people who occasionally sleep in their contact lenses are 6.5 times more likely to experience keratitis than people who don’t
● Approximately 58,000 people end up in emergency room with keratitis each year
● According to research done by the Centre for Disease Control, almost 1 million people in US end up at the doctor with keratitis every year.
Tips for contact lens care:
● Follow the wearing and maintenance schedule for your contact lenses that is set out by your doctor. Keep in mind although some contact lenses are designed for long wear/ overnight use, sleeping in contacts, does not suit for everyone.
● Wash your hands before handling your contacts so that you don’t transfer dirt and germs to your eye from your hand
● Never use tap water directly on lenses
● Clean your contact lens case every time you use it with either sterile solution or hot tap water
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call or book an appointment with us at Beyond Vision.