Most people who wear contact lenses during the day will take them out at night before they go to sleep . But what if you’re too tired to remove them, or you forget? Is it that big of a deal if you sleep with your contacts that are not designed for extended-wear?
As it turns out, sleeping with your contact lenses is not advisable. While it may not seem like a big deal, sleeping with your contacts can lead to serious eye problems.
If You Don’t Take Your Contacts Out Before Bed
1. Your eyes can get very dry overnight. When you blink, your tears spread over your eyeballs and keep them moist. But when you wear contact lenses, they act like a barrier and prevent tears from getting to your eyes, causing dryness and irritation.
2. You’re more likely to get an eye infection. Sleeping with contact lenses increases your risk of eye infection by providing a breeding ground for bacteria.
3. Your cornea can become misshapen overnight. The cornea is the clear, round dome on the front of your eye that helps focus light into the eye. Contact lenses sit on top of the cornea, and when you blink, they move around slightly. Over time, this constant movement can cause the cornea to become misshapen (a condition called keratoconus). Keratoconus can lead to blurred vision and even blindness if left untreated.
However, you could consider a trial under the supervision of your optometrist. Have your optometrist monitor you over a month – one day, one week, and one month after consecutive nights of wear.
If you sleep in your lenses by accident – don’t panic!
You may wake up and find your eyes blurry with some crusting in the corners of your eyes. Do the following steps:
- Remove your lenses immediately. Leave them out for at least 24 hours.
- To fix lenses stuck to the eye surface, lubricate the eyes extensively every 5 minutes to relubricate the lenses. Reattempt removal – if you can’t remove them – see your optometrist immediately.
- Monitor yourself for the symptoms. Your eyes may be dry and probably scratchy. If you remove your lens successfully, lubricate your eyes every 30 minutes until they feel normal.
- Remember the P.E.D.A.L. acronym. If you have any of these symptoms, or your eye stays red, see your eye care professional immediately.
P= Pain – no pain is acceptable
E= Edema/Swelling – check if you have swelling of your eyelid or white of the eye.
D= Discharge – Moist Discharge is not acceptable.
A= Acuity – If your vision is blurry and stays blurry – seek advice immediately.
L= Light sensitivity – if you have increased light sensitivity, you may have an eye infection.
The Idea Behind Extended Wear Contact Lenses
The idea behind extended-wear contact lenses is that you can sleep in them. You do not have to take them out every night, and you can always wear them. Depending on the type of contact lens your optometrist recommends, your contact lenses will last up to 30 days.
Extended-wear contact lenses can be weekly or monthly disposable lenses designed to be worn and thrown away. You do not need to clean or store the daily or weekly lenses, as you would with monthly lenses. Monthly disposable lenses can be worn for up to 30 days continuously.
Types of Extended Wear Contact Lenses
Two types of extended-wear contact lenses are rigid gas permeable lenses (G.P.) and soft lenses.
Rigid gas permeable (G.P.) lenses use a material that allows oxygen to pass through to the cornea. They are more durable than soft lenses and can last up to one year with proper care.
Soft contact lenses use a gel-like material that retains water and is comfortable to wear. However, they do not allow as much oxygen to reach the eye and need replacement more often than G.P. lenses.
If you use extended-wear contact lenses, it is essential to follow your optometrist’s recommendations for care and replacement.
The Benefits of Wearing Extended Wear Contact Lenses
The main advantage of extended-wear contact lenses is that they are very convenient. You do not have to remember to take them out every night, and you can always leave them in.
Another benefit of extended-wear contact lenses is that they can help improve vision for people with conditions requiring continuous vision correction. For example, if you have high correction or astigmatism, there is no need to fumble around for your glasses.
Potential Risks Associated With Wearing Extended Wear Contact Lenses
You should be aware of some disadvantages of extended-wear contact lenses before you decide to use them. One disadvantage of extended-wear contact lenses is that they can increase your risk of developing an eye infection. Because bacteria can build up on the lens surface if not cleaned regularly. Another disadvantage is that sleeping in your contacts can cause your eyes to become dry and irritated.
Flexible Use of Extended Wear Contact Lenses
If you want to avoid wearing your extended-wear contact lenses all the time, you can still enjoy the convenience of not having to take them out every night. You can take them out when you want to, such as for showering or swimming, and then put them back in when finished. This way, you can still have the best of both worlds – the convenience of not taking your contact lenses out every night and the freedom to take them out when you want.
So, follow your optometrist’s advice. If they haven’t recommended overnight wear, stay with daily wear. If you want to change to sleeping in your lenses, see your optometrist first for a trial to see if they are right for you.