Falling asleep with your daily wear contact lenses in may not seem like a big deal, but doing so makes you 6-8 times more likely to develop an eye infection. In fact, wearing contacts during sleep is the most common risk taken among all lens wearers.
But how does something like sleeping with contacts pose such a high risk to your eyes? This blog post, offered by Vishal Patel, OD, goes over what can happen to your eyes when you wear contacts during sleep.
Your eyes need to breath
Your eyes need plenty of moisture and oxygen to stay healthy and fight off infections. Blinking keeps your cornea, the front surface of your eye, hydrated, which also helps deliver oxygen to the cells in your cornea.
Since contacts rest on your cornea, your eyes aren’t getting as much moisture and oxygen. This normally isn’t a problem because you take your contacts out at the end of the day, allowing your eyes to breathe and rehydrate. Unless, of course, you fall asleep wearing them.
Closing your eyes also cuts back on the amount of oxygen they get, even if you aren’t wearing your lenses. Keeping them on during sleep only adds fuel to the fire and puts you at a higher risk for hypoxia, or low oxygen levels, and also a higher risk of bacterial eye infections.
Sleeping with your contacts in can lead to keratitis
We know that sleeping in contacts causes a lack of adequate oxygen flow, putting you at risk for eye infections. But another potential complication is painful, damaging eye inflammation called keratitis.
Keratitis affects your cornea and often occurs from an eye infection or injury. Wearing your contacts for too long and sleeping in them can damage your cornea and result in this condition.
On top of that, it’s easier for bacteria to enter your eye and cause bacterial keratitis if it’s injured. Bacterial keratitis can result in permanent damage to your cornea and even vision loss if it’s severe.
Signs of an eye infection
Eye infections can affect one or both of your eyes, and it’s not always obvious if your symptoms are from infection, allergies, or just minor irritation. If you do have an infection, you may experience symptoms like:
- Itchy eyes
- Pain or discomfort
- Vision changes
- Sensitivity to light
- Burning feeling in your eyes
- Red, watery eyes
- Irritation or feeling like something’s in your eye
- Painful bumps under your eyelids
Many of these symptoms occur with minor optical issues, that’s why it’s best to consult a professional like Dr. Patel if you have any concerns.
Eye infections from contacts have many complications
It’s risky sleeping in your contact lenses if they’re meant for daily wear. Falling asleep in them once or twice isn’t a big deal, but it’s not a good habit to get into.
Contact lens-related infections often require patients to use medicated eye drops for weeks or months. In many cases, if eye drops don’t help, these infections require surgical intervention.
Whether you’ve never worn contact lenses or have been wearing them for years, Dr. Patel can address your questions and concerns. To learn more about contact lenses and caring for them, schedule an appointment with Dr. Patel online or by phone.