Can You Sleep with Contact Lenses?
If you are a regular wearer of contact lenses, you will no doubt have fallen asleep in your lenses once or twice in your lifetime. Unless your lenses are designed for extended wear, you should try to avoid falling asleep with your contacts in as a rule. However, even the most meticulous contacts wearer will undoubtedly find themselves succumbing to an unplanned nap without removing their lenses.
The Dangers of Sleeping with Contact Lenses
The biggest problem with sleeping while wearing contact lenses is that oxygen penetration is greatly diminished. The health of your corneas hinges on receiving enough oxygen from the air and wearing contact lenses for an extended period of time greatly diminishes this. The majority of contacts in use today are designed to allow some oxygen to pass through the surface of the lenses, ensuring your corneas receive enough of the chemical in waking life. However, once your eyes are closed during sleep, much of the natural supply of oxygen is cut off from your corneas.
If you’re sleeping in your contacts, you make the problem much worse. If your corneas are consistently starved of oxygen, you run the risk of developing painful eye conditions such as ulcers. Although many ailments can be easily treated, you may find yourself dealing with scarring that can have long-term implications.
If you have fallen asleep while wearing contact lenses, there’s no need to panic. After waking, wait for several minutes before attempting to remove your contact lenses, especially if you suffer from dry eyes after sleeping. When you come to remove your lenses, you may find it useful to hydrate your eyes with drops. Using eye drops will also ensure that the lenses themselves are rehydrated making them easier to remove.
Once you have removed your lenses, avoid reinserting them for several hours. This is particularly important if you have worn lenses while sleeping for a considerable stretch of time. While your lenses are out, check for any noticeable discomfort in the eye area or any impairment to your vision. If all is fine after a few hours, you are okay to reinsert your lenses in the future. However, if you notice any issues, it’s best to seek the advice of an optician.