Is it bad to sleep with contacts in?
We have all been there before. After a long day of work or a late night out, you forget to take out your contact lenses before bed.
The thought of washing your hands, applying a solution to your lenses, and cleaning out your case before removing your contacts is too daunting of a task. When you lock eyes on your pillow, the last thing you want to do is remove your contacts.
Is it safe to sleep with contacts?
What are the consequences of sleeping with contacts? Sleeping in your contacts could make you regret it the second you wake up. Your eyes will be dry, and you will feel as if you have wasted valuable shuteye.
According to the CDC, more than 30 million people in the U.S. wear contact lenses. Many contact lens wearers wonder at some point if it's that bad to sleep in your contacts. Let's ask the expert.
Rebecca Taylor, M.D., an ophthalmologist in private practice in Nashville, Tenn., and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology made some interesting references on the downside of sleeping in your contacts in an article for the Huffington Post.
“It's sort of like sleeping with a plastic bag over your head," Taylor says. Because sleeping with your contacts still in can severely limit oxygen transmission to your eyes. During your waking hours, your cornea receives oxygen from the air and your tears. But when you're fast asleep, the cornea gets less nourishment and oxygen because your eyes are closed for hours. So, when you leave a piece of plastic, like your contact lens over the cornea overnight, you deprive your eyes of oxygen. There is a possibility your contact lens can tighten in your eye, causing microscopic tears to the cornea. And if there are harmful microorganisms in your eye, that could also lead to an infection.
Can you nap with contacts?
Contact lenses approved by the Food and Drug Administration for overnight and extended wear provide above-average oxygen flow to your eyes. A quick nap won’t suffocate your eyes. If your lifestyle warrants the need to sleep in your contact lenses, talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for extended wear lenses.
What to do if you fall asleep with contacts in?
What happens if you sleep with contacts? Take them out as soon as you wake up to give your eyes a breather. If you find it difficult to remove the lenses, don’t try to force them out. You could end up tearing the cornea. Instead, use a few drops of solution to wet your eyes and the lenses and try again.
If you are thinking of switching to contacts, or you already have, start being consistent with your daily routine. We understand that it can be a pain to take out your contact lenses, especially when you are exhausted at the end of a long day. But if you make it part of your routine to remove your contact lenses, your eyes will thank you for it in the morning.