We have all done it out of sheer exhaustion, forgetfulness, or necessity, but is sleeping with them really that bad?
Common question users who wear contact lenses or lenses have is whether sleeping with them at night is okay. So let’s discard:
Is it okay to sleep with the lenses?
The short answer is no, not really. While it is possible to have done it and be fine, you should not be fooled by past success and think that it is okay to sleep with them regularly. There are a lot of risks and the possible negative results are not minor. Serious long-term health and medical consequences can arise.
What about night glasses?
According to the All About Vision website, the FDA first approved certain lenses for overnight use in 1981. These lenses were approved for up to two weeks of use without removal, but shortly after this approval, some lenses received the FDA approval for up to 30 days of continuous use. Over time, the researchers found that the incidence of eye infections was higher among people who slept while wearing contact lenses, so the FDA reduced the maximum period of prolonged use to seven days.
What are the risks?
Many eye care professionals still strongly believe that nighttime use is too risky. A central corneal ulcer can progress quite rapidly for 24 hours and can have potentially devastating consequences on a person’s vision. The most virulent type of organisms that invade the cornea thrive in a dark, humid environment with low oxygen tension. These are precisely the conditions that occur on the ocular surface when we sleep. The lens can allow microorganisms to adhere to the lens, increasing the likelihood of infection.
Ulcers are not the only risk. The National Sleep Foundation of the USA warns that the lack of oxygen that reaches your cornea during that 24-hour period can also have harmful risks that can prevent you from using contacts again. The foundation also describes how sleeping with your lenses can redden your eyes, cause growths on your eyelids, and also cause other infections.
That said, people who wear contact lenses should remember that a contact lens is a medical device and requires proper care.