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Why NOT to Sleep in Contact Lenses? | Long Island Eye Doctor

Why NOT to Sleep in Contact Lenses?
Dr. Joel Kestenbaum

Unless your contact lenses are specifically made to sleep in, I would never recommend that you sleep in contact lenses.  There are however, specially designed contact lenses that you can sleep in. There are even contacts for just when you sleep, so you can go through the day without glasses or contacts.  We are not talking about those right now.  We are talking about normal contacts that are worn during the day and should be taken out each night before you sleep.

Lack of Oxygen When You Sleep in Contacts

When you close your eyes, your cornea (the clear, outer portion of your eye) is designed to naturally adapt to this change.  They adapt by adjusting to a lower level of oxygen to keep the eye safe while it is behind your eyelid.

However, when you sleep in contacts (regular contacts) you place an additional barrier to oxygen on the cornea.   A barrier that decreases the oxygen level beyond what your closed eyelids do.  This extreme decrease in oxygen places your cornea at risk of infection.  If the infection is bad enough, it can lead to scaring on the cornea that will forever change the quality of your sight.

Lack of Moisture When You Sleep in Contacts

For those that wear contacts, I don’t need to tell you how dry your eyes feel when you wake up from a nap when you slept in your contacts.  Sometimes they can be so dry that you need to take them out or use eye drops to return your eyes to a comfortable moisture level.

Why do your eyes feel this way?

When you close your eyes the eyelids naturally decrease the tear production needed to keep them moist.  This lack of tears causes your cornea to swell as well as dry out your contact lenses.  A swollen cornea is now a different shape than it was when the doctor measured and fit you with the contact lens.  This causes the eye and a dry contact lens to bind together causing the discomfort you feel.

If they are bound tight enough, when you go to remove your contact lens it can damage the cornea itself.

If You Sleep in Contacts, You May be Back in Glasses

Contact wearers know from experience that everything has to be perfect for those contact lenses to be comfortable enough to wear.  They can’t be ripped, dirty, and dry, have an eyelash or any other debris under them and your eyes have to be in good shape (no colds, allergies, etc.).  Without perfect conditions for your contacts, you will end up wearing your eye glasses.

This is exactly what happens if you sleep in the daily wear contacts that your eye doctor recommended.   They were not created for that type of use and are not approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for extended wear.

Didn’t you get contacts because you didn’t want to wear your eye glasses?

If you continue to sleep in contact lenses that were not recommended for extended wearing, you may end up doing enough damage to your cornea that you won’t be able to wear contacts at all for a very long period of time.

Be smart.  Listen to your eye doctor’s advice.

For more information you can contact Optix Family Eyecare in Plainview, Long Island or visit our website. Call at 516-931-6330 or book an appointment to get a comprehensive eye exam, get the best fitting contact lens and more!

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