What happens if you sleep with contacts?
We’ve all been there -- it’s been a long day and all you want to do is collapse onto your bed. It’s not uncommon for people to accidentally fall asleep without taking out their contacts after a long day or a late night out. But what happens when you sleep with contacts in, is it bad to sleep in your contacts?
The answer to this question depends on the type of lenses that you’ve been prescribed, although generally, eye doctors don’t recommend sleeping in your lenses, no matter the type of lens that you wear. The reason for that is because contact lenses, no matter how thin and breathable they are, decrease your eyes’ access to oxygen. If worn for over a long time, this decreased oxygen flow can result in oxygen deprivation, making them increasingly prone to irritation, infection and even corneal ulcers.
How long can you wear contacts before you start to feel the effects of the decrease in oxygen flow? Most types of contact lenses are ok for use for up to 16 hours, after which they should be taken out to give your eyes a break and let them recover. Please talk with your doctor if you have any doubts.
Most types of contact lenses will become drier and even more difficult to remove when you sleep in them. However, there are some contact lenses that are designed to allow for extended and overnight wear. These lenses are made to provide greater oxygen permeability through the lens to ensure that your eyes receive a steady flow of oxygen even while you sleep. Read more about which contact lenses can you sleep in.
What happens if you fall asleep with contacts in for a short time?
Even if it’s just for a quick nap, you should avoid wearing your lenses while sleeping if the contact lenses you wear are not prescribed for extended use. At first, this may cause only minor eye irritation, though you may find after that your contact lenses have become drier and may even already be more difficult to take out.
What happens if you sleep with contacts in for one night?
Anyone who has accidentally slept with their contacts in can tell you, if your lenses are not prescribed for extended use and ok to have in while sleeping, the next morning your eyes are likely to experience discomfort, redness and dryness, while your contact lenses will feel less flexible and may even get stuck to your eyes!
If this happens, gently massaging your eyes and blinking can help redistribute moisture to your lenses so that they become rehydrated and can be more easily removed. To alleviate the irritation and redness of your eyes, take out your lenses and give your eyes a break for a while before putting in a fresh pair of lenses.
If you find that you are repeatedly forgetting to take out your contact lenses each night before going to bed, or you have difficulty in the mornings and evenings before putting in or after taking out your lenses, you may want to consider speaking to your OD about extended wear contact lenses at your next eye appointment.
Order your contacts online, as well as any products you need to clean and care for your lenses, so that you always have a fresh pair in stock to switch to in case your lenses ever dry out.