Is it bad to sleep in your contacts?
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 going to bed.
The thought of washing your hands, applying 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, removing contacts can quickly become an afterthought.
If you happen to fall asleep in your contacts, the second you wake up in the morning you will likely have instant regret. 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. The question that all contact lenses wearers ask themselves at one point or another is, “Is it 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. This is because sleeping with your contacts still in actually severely limits oxygen transmission to your eyes. When you are awake and your eyes are open, your cornea receives oxygen from the air and from your tears. But when you're fast asleep, the cornea receives less nourishment and oxygen because your eyes are closed for hours. Therefore, when you leave a piece of plastic, i.e., your contact lens - over the cornea overnight, you are further depriving your eyes of oxygen.
This can lead to your contact lens tightening in your eye, causing microscopic tears to the cornea - and if there's harmful microorganisms in your eye, that could also lead to an infection.
Now, some contact lenses are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for overnight and extended wear. If you're dead-set on being able to sleep in your contact lenses, talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for one of these types of lenses.
Make the Extra Effort
“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine."
Now, the aforementioned quote from Mike Murdoch is not related directly to contacts. If you think of it in the right context though, making a daily routine of taking out your contact lenses means that your eyes will be better off in the future.
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 daily routine to remove your contact lenses, your eyes will thank you for it and you'll feel great in the morning.