Do you know what, wearing contact lenses can make your eyes look truly mesmerizing?

For some, wearing contact lenses is fashionable, while for others its more of a necessity.

People with weak eyesight usually prefer wearing glasses, lenses, or get laser treatments. And among such people, some do not prefer to wear spectacles just because they are afraid, they will look nerdy. Whether you want to wear contact lenses occasionally at a party or you like to wear them regularly at work, taking those lenses off and wearing them can be quite a hassle. Be it weekly disposable contact lenses, monthly or two-week disposable lenses. In any case, falling asleep with your lenses on should be out of the question, as it could get quite damaging to your eyes.

What happens when you sleep in contact lenses?

As per the U.S. - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sleeping in contact lenses increases the chances of contracting severe eye infection six to eight times! You probably ask why and here the answer to that is. When you 're up, your eyes are usually open (maybe even during the excessively long weekly meeting at work). As contacts lock your eyes shut, oxygen would not enter the corneas. Which may induce oxidative stress, resulting in swelling, dry eyes, swollen eyes, abrasions (scratches on the eye surface), allergies, corneal ulcers, and irreversible sight loss.

The CDC released a study in August 2018 that sleeping in contact lenses is a dangerous activity in people of all demographics:

  • Adolescents ages 12-17: 29.8%
  • Young adults ages 18-24: 33.3%
  • Adults ages 25 and older: 32.9%

Do you want to know what happens when you sleep without removing your contact lenses? Here are some harmful things that can happen to your eyes when you do not remove them.

Dry, red, and gritty eyes

If you fall asleep with your contact lenses on, your eyes can get swollen, red, and dirty when you wake up. Initially, when you open your eyes, you may feel irritation and feel a crusty build up around your eyes, especially along the lashes and the inner corners of your eyes.

Eye Infection: 

Contact lenses can gather dirt and debris and have infections if they are not washed, cleaned, and disinfected regularly whether they are monthly or two weekly contact lenses, or if they are regular lenses disposed of after a single usage. This may cause temporary/permanent loss of vision and corneal abrasions (scratches on the eye surface).

Conjunctivitis (more commonly referred to as the pink eye) is a common infection that causes a red and aggravated appearance. Conjunctivitis is usually not painful and can be treated easily with prescribed drops or over the counter eye drops. This typically clears up after a few days and can be triggered by the improper wearing of contacts.

Can you sleep in contact lenses for an hour? 

Sleeping with your contact lenses can be harmful to your eyes even just for an hour. For others, they might now be that harmful as they are to yours. When it comes to your eyes, it's not worth the risk, and doctors don't recommend that you sleep in contact lenses, even if it's just an hour.

What to do if you sleep in contact lenses? 

In case, you have accidentally fallen asleep while wearing a pair, here are a few things suggested by some of the experts at Coloured Contact Lenses to help you keep your eyes safe from any harm or injury.

  • When you have fallen asleep with your contact lenses on and when you wake up, do not automatically attempt to pluck the lenses out from your eyes.
  • You may note that the eyes are either really dry or there is a build-up and mucus-like sensation on the eyes, Blink a few times and give them a few moments to re-moisture naturally, and have a glass of water to help you rehydrate.
  •  Make sure to wash your hands before touching your contact lenses and take the lenses out of your eyes carefully.
  •  Dispose of the lenses if they are regular ones and ensure the lenses are always adequately disinfected.
  • Soak the lenses in a multifunctional solution or peroxide solution to treat for at least six hours.

You may also want to avoid wearing lenses for the rest of the day to allow your eyes to recover. Your eyes would have likely dried out and felt tired and irritated. If possible, wear spectacles.

Real-Life Experience

A 59-year-old man left his soft contact lenses in overnight on a two-day hunting trip. Wiping his eyes with a towel whilst having a shower after returning home, he noticed a sudden cracking sound, then experienced pain shot into his left eye. An illness that he received during the hunting trip from sleeping with his contact lenses! His left cornea produced a massive ulcer and it ruptured, cutting a hole in his eye. Also, if he was having emergency surgery to remove the cornea, cataract surgery was required a year later to regain a reasonable degree of vision in that eye. If you accidentally catch some Zzz with your lenses in, be aware of signs of an infection. If you experience redness, irritation, sensitivity to light, excessive tearing, blurred vision, or general eye pain, call your eye doctor as soon as possible.

Advice for Some Safe Contact Lens Wearer

To reduce the risk of developing an eye infection, a good doctor gives the following recommendations: 

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water before touching your contact lenses. 
  • Always buy contact lenses from a well-renowned company.
  • Never use plain water to clean your lenses. Always use a lens cleaning solution of a good company to get rid of the bacteria and debris from the surface of your lenses.
  • Get a new case for your lenses every three or four months.
  • Change the solution every three days from your case to keep the case bacteria-free. 
Keep the case in a cool dry place.