If you wear prescription glasses, do you prefer frame glasses or contact lenses, if you prefer contact lenses, do you know what happens when you sleep in your contact lenses？
If you wear contacts, you’ve probably been there before – maybe you fell asleep with your lenses in after a late night, or you took a little nap without being bothered to take them out – what harm can 15 a fifteen-minute nap do, right? Well, you’re not alone. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one-third of all contact wearers fall asleep with their lenses in. But even if you’ve skated by so far without suffering the repercussions of this practice, we’ve got some information that might make you think twice the next time you’re feeling too lazy to take out those lenses.
In the human eye, the cornea is part of your body’s defense against bacteria and infection. Eyes are regularly bombarded by contaminants, but the cornea prevents them from becoming infections. However, in order for the cornea to function properly, it needs adequate levels of oxygen and hydration. Contacts not only accumulate their own bacteria throughout the day, but they vastly decrease the eye’s accessibility to oxygen and hydration because they fit so snugly against the cornea, which is why removing them prior to sleep (and soaking them in disinfecting solution) is so important for your eyes to recuperate overnight.
As you can imagine, when you wear those contacts while sleeping (especially if you tend to do this on a regular basis), those oxygen and hydration levels decrease even further, which is why you will most likely wake up with red, dry eyes and have difficulty removing your lenses the following morning. But in addition to the temporary discomfort that comes after sleeping in your contacts, this habit can have graver consequences. Without enough oxygen, the cells of the cornea lose their ability to efficiently defend the eye from outside contaminants, which could, in turn, lead to infections like conjunctivitis (pink eye), bacterial keratitis, or acanthamoeba keratitis. In fact, The Center for Contact Lens Research states that those who sleep in their lenses increase their risk of keratitis by 10 times.
If you do accidentally fall asleep in your lenses one night, however, don’t panic. Just remove your contacts as soon as possible (use additional eye lubricant if you have trouble taking them out), apply eye drops, and give those eyes rest for a day before using contacts again. In fact, giving yourself a routine break from contact lenses is never a bad idea. Think of it as an opportunity to rock a pair of your favorite Jim Halo frames.