Effects of Wearing Contacts During Sleep

February 26, 2012

A contact lens is a medical instrument that corrects eye vision; it serves as a substitute to eyeglasses. Their design depends on the different magnification requirements of various eyes, while their appearance simply depends on personal preferences.  Some people even personalize their contact lenses that would accentuate their personalities and/or hobbies.  (Did you know that there are contact lenses that look like a soccer ball?) But, be it for style or for medical purposes, people should be aware that contact lenses, when not used properly, could cause damage our eyes.

Sleeping with Contact LensesThere are two types of contact lenses: Conventional and Disposable. Conventional contacts are designed for long-term use. Its life-span should be between one to six months. Disposable contacts, as its name imply, are contacts manufactured to last for only two weeks of use, at the most. Subcategories include hard lenses, soft lenses, extended-wear lenses, rigid gas permeable lenses, and refractive lenses. Among these six subtypes, only the extended-wear and refractive lenses are the only ones that can be safely worn overnight. Because they are specially designed to cure extensive eye problems, one should receive the recommendation of an ophthalmologist or optometrist recommendation before he or she considers buying a pair of either one of them.

Note that very few people are advised to wear the special contacts mentioned above. And just because they are the safest to wear overnight, it doesn’t mean that such actions are totally free of threats. Actually, the FDA doesn’t recommend usage of any lenses during sleep. In summary, there are no absolute contacts that can be worn during sleep.  So what happens to a person’s eyes of they end up being covered with contact lenses all night long?

  • Oxygen blockage: Leaving your contact lenses on for an unreasonable amount of time will soon cause your eyes to be oxygen-deprived. As a result, blood vessels to form to provide the oxygen themselves. The problem with this is that the effort of the blood vessels would not be enough, which in turn would result in blurred vision.
  • Damaged Cornea: Our sensitive corneas will swell and become somewhat cloudy. This too will further damage unclear eyesight.
  • Ulcerated Cornea (Ulcerative Keratitis): Things can become a bit uneasy once we learn that our eyes come into contact with small substances carried by the air. Logic would suggest that wearing contact lenses should be able to block out these intruders. Sounds good, right? Of course! However, if we keep wearing our contacts during sleep, these tiny substances collected by our lenses can spread bacteria and infections onto our eyes. If this incident ever happens to any of us, he or she would become prone to a disease called Keratitis.  Symptoms include redness, eye swelling, watery eyes, or blindness.

I know that it’s always tempting to directly sleep off the stress about by a busy day. That is why users of contacts should constantly remind themselves that it will only take them a few seconds to remove their lenses.