Can I Sleep or Nap With Contact Lenses

Can I Sleep or Nap With Contact Lenses?

You find yourself worn out at the end of the day. You know the chances of napping or falling asleep are high. You don’t have it in you to remember to take your glasses off when watching TV or reading a book and you always end up in pain or breaking them. So, you ask yourself: can I sleep or nap with contact lenses?

Contacts are here to help you read this. We could drag this along and tease you that it is a big possibility to bend the rules in your favor, but the big answer is no.

It is not recommended by any science fact, research, or health authority to make a routine of leaving your contacts in.

We know you already did it once, statistics show that over 80% of adults are guilty of this misuse. Read more about why it’s important to break this habit.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remind us that we only have one pair of eyes and it’s important to learn how to keep them healthy.

Sometimes, eyes need lenses to help us see better, but it’s essential we use these correctly. If we abuse this optic accessory, we increase the chance of getting eye infections and these are highly dangerous.

The source of this sleeping in lenses trend is that several contact companies have launched day/night products on the market. These “extended wear”, “continuous wear” or “overnight wear” items offer some type of freedom, but wearers should be aware that if they choose to use these models, the chances of infection are the same as for others.

Why You Can’t Sleep With Your Lenses In

Sleeping in any type of contact increases irritation and damage to your eye. When you sleep leaving your contacts in, the eyes cannot get enough oxygen.

This is the first tool in fighting off germs. It can also lead to the lens getting tight while in the eye due to loss of moisture. This can result in tiny rips or tears on both the product and your eyes.

microbial keratitis
Image Source: Terry Cralle

You are also at a high risk of getting a type of corneal infection called microbial keratitis. One person out of 10,000 who sleeps with their lenses can get up to 20 infections per year. This infection is caused by a bacterium that affects the clear dome covering the colored part of the eyes.

Some types are pseudomonas aeruginosa and staphylococcus aureus. These are found on the soil and the human skin, but also in water. Be assured that this disease cannot be spread from person to person though.

If left untreated, the affliction can result in vision loss or even blindness. Symptoms include eye pain and redness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and eye discharge. Overnight wearers are exposed to getting this bacterium, as are those that don’t respect the instructions and even share products.

Other risks associated with lenses are corneal hypoxia and ulcers due to irritation and eye rubbing when carrying on wearing these clear-vision accessories.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, illness symptoms are fast and need medical attention. If you want to read more about the side effects, please discover Contact Lens Use Under Adverse Conditions: Applications in Military Aviation.

What Happens If You Nap With Your Lenses?

dryness, redness, and a sandy eye in the morning
Image Source: Terry Cralle

People that see in a blurry often dream about getting up from the bed and witnessing the world clearly. But waking up in your lenses can cause dryness, redness, and a sandy feeling that isn’t heaven-like. When you awake, you might feel sore and have a crust around the inner eye that can lead to conjunctivitis or pink-eye.

Even a short 1-hour nap can cause damage, especially when it becomes a routine.

It’s hard to always put them in and take them off, particularly during a holiday or if you’re wearing single-use items, but the risk isn’t worth it either. Eyes react differently and even if you slipped one time, you shouldn’t keep doing it!

If you had an unplanned nap with your products in, don’t worry for now. Go back to healthy habits. Wake up and blink a few times to make the eyes re-moisture naturally. Drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes before taking the lenses out. If you feel that something is wrong, keep the lens because your ophthalmologist can analyze it for a bacterium.

You might want to avoid wearing contacts for the rest of the day and stick to your classic fancy glasses to allow the eyes to reset and recover. Your eyes will feel tired, dried and irritated, so it’s normal you won’t feel too good with spectacles on either. This is the price you have to pay for ignoring the rules.

Top Tips For Eye Lenses Safety

Every eye care provider offers specific instructions on how to properly wear, clean, and store lenses to be able to enjoy their products safely and comfortably. The first tip most of them offer is: don’t sleep with your contacts.

There are unique cases where eye doctors give personalized instructions to leave your items in as part of a treatment. Otherwise, sleeping or napping in contacts has been shown to increase the chance of an eye infection by 6 to 8 times. The CDC says that these tips apply to both soft and hard lenses.

Not only this, but you should also replace your contacts as often as it’s recommended. You have to wash your hands properly when handling them, as they can only be cleaned by a special solution. The disinfecting solution always has to be fresh, don’t reuse old drops.

Another tip to caring for your lenses is to keep them away from water. You are not allowed to sleep with them, nor take a bath or a swim.

Water can introduce germs to the eyes. Talk with your eye care provider to receive all the instructions and remove anything if you feel pain, discomfort, redness, or blurred vision.

What If I Need To Sleep With Lenses In?

There are some cases when people need to sleep in their lenses, be it as part of a treatment or even for work. Doctors are a great example.

If you need to wear contacts that have a more flexible timeframe, opt for special models that are made out of silicone hydrogel. This is a breathable material, thank the science, that allows increased levels of oxygen to reach the eye to keep it moist.

These extended wear lenses can be found as two weekly and monthly products. Just know that all the rules and risks from above still apply. Even if air reaches the cornea, you can still accumulate impurities during the many hours of usage, like simple dust, which is a paradise for microorganisms and different allergens.

Practitioners usually recommend you use them part-time, only during the days of the week you work long hours and switch to glasses for the rest of the time to let the eyes rest.

Specialists also recommend you call your optometrist before making the switch to extended wear items as these aren’t for everybody.

You must have your eyes reassessed periodically to wear them safely.

These objects need a lot of moisture that your eye might not offer and you will need special drops. It is like a sponge that will draw moisture from your eyes to function properly and you need to provide it, day and night. Moisture deprivation also means oxygen deprivation and this makes the eye grow more blood vessels to increase the blood supply to the cornea.

Neovascularization can impair vision because these new vessels inhibit light from traveling normally through the eye. So, get all the information there is about long-wearing.

What Are People Saying About Extended Wearing?

Sleeping in your contact lenses is risky and can lead to infections, or in some cases, permanent damage. Falling asleep, or even napping, without removing your contact lenses can significantly increase the likelihood of serious health problems.Jon Femling, M.D., Ph.D.

There is a study that shows the precise effects extended wearing and rule-bending does to the eyes. Some patients have been treated with drops, but others have ended up on the operating chairs and even scarred for life.

This is a testament to why both young and older generations need to rethink the worthiness of making a routine out of a cat-nap in the afternoon and leaving their optic accessories in.

Doctors raise a good question: do you know what your lenses came into contact with during the day to be at ease sleeping in them? Most probably the answer is no.

You might think about the dust and part of make-up, but you never count the unknown, the sneeze from the saleswoman or the mud your sticky-hands-toddler swiped all over your face in the garden. These are only but a few bacterium-filled examples.

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