Sleeping In Your Contact Lenses

Sleeping In Your Contact Lenses

Sleeping and even taking a nap wearing contact lenses can detrimentally affect your eye health.  We all seem to be able to remember to take our spectacles off before falling asleep but this is not the case when it comes to contact lenses.

I’m guilty as charged myself, recently taking a plane flight and organizing everything that goes along with travel, I collapsed into bed exhausted and forgot to take my daily multifocal contact lenses out, sleeping with them in all night.  When I woke up I thought a train had hit me, I seemed to ache all over and then I remembered my contact lenses !  What a debacle getting them out and for days my eyes were red and sore. 

If this “accidental” scenario happens to you, you’ll probably find the contact lens has become stuck to your eye due to lack of movement and moisture. The best course of action is to add plenty of lubricant drops and leave them in until the lens rehydrates and starts to move again before trying to remove it, removing a dry, tight lens risks causing abrasions to the cornea.   Once the lens is removed apply extra lubricant drops to the eye and wear your spectacles, giving the eye time to fully recover before inserting your contacts again.  If any pain or discomfort is experienced, please see your optometrist. If the lenses you have removed are 2 weekly or monthly lenses store them in a clean lens case with plenty of contact lens solution and leave for a day or two so the lens can rehydrate completely.

Contact lenses today are made from materials that allow ample amounts of oxygen through to the cornea supporting eye health, keeping the eyes comfortable, clear and white.  For this to happen the eyes need to be open so the cornea can access the available oxygen from the air and tears. When the eyes are closed with the additional contact lens barrier, the cornea becomes deprived of its vital oxygen supply and lack of blinking reduces the moisture, this is where the problems start.

Eyes that suffer from regular oxygen deprivation experience symptoms such as pain & swelling, a feeling like grains of sand are in the eye, redness, eye strain, blurry vision, light sensitivity, and an increased risk of eye infections.  In more severe cases painful corneal ulcers can occur and although treatable can causing scarring which can make contact lens wear uncomfortable for the future.

If falling asleep with your contact lenses in, is a regular habit, there is a solution, talk to your Optometrist about extended wear contact lenses, they are specifically designed to be worn for multiple days and nights continuously.  Extended wear contact lenses are popular for shift workers, new parents, campers, boaties as they allow you to wake up and be ready to go immediately and you don’t need to worry about impromptu napping.

Contact lenses provide us with great freedoms, flexibility and convenience but they should never be taken for granted, your eye health needs to be protected, so be diligent with your care.

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