If you wear contact lenses, then you may know the problems that arise from having them in too long or overnight. To most people, it is common knowledge that they should not wear their contacts overnight. Sleeping in your contacts can cause a wide array of problems starting with small, almost unnoticeable irritations to severe permanent damage. In this article, we will discuss a few issues that can arise from consistently sleeping in your contacts.
Your cornea is the outermost layer of your eye and is the portion of your eye that is most in contact with your contact lenses. Consistently sleeping in your contacts can lead to severe problems for your corneal health and overall sight. The cornea requires constant oxygen and the occasional flow of liquids from your glands to clean out debris and bacteria. Leaving contacts in overnight cuts off some oxygen flow to your corneas as well as tears created by your glands to filter out bacteria. Even within a short period, someone can experience dryness, irritation, or pain from dry and dirty contacts.
Prolonged use of contact lenses can lead to a variety of infections in the cornea. In severe cases, things like a corneal ulcer can form. The corneal ulcer forms from accumulated bacteria on the eye and can cause irritation, vision impairment, blindness, and strange sensations in the eye. Conjunctivitis or pink eye is a common infection that can be caused by dirty contact lenses. In rare cases, a person can experience Acanthamoeba keratitis which is an infection of the cornea from a single-celled organism, or ameba that invades the cornea. The Acanthamoeba can be found in water or soil and is most commonly transferred by improper care of contact lenses.
The best way to prevent eye injury and infection from contacts is to follow the instructed care of your lenses from a professional. Wash your hands before dealing with your contacts and remove your contacts before participating in an activity that involves being in the water. Schedule frequent checkups with your optometrist to evaluate your contact routine and receive examinations. Follow the instructions of your optometrist or contact lens packaging to ensure fresh and clean contacts throughout.
While you may not be intentionally sleeping in your contacts, always try to be aware when you have them in and to take them out at the necessary times to avoid any kind of impairment to your vision. Take care of your eyes!