Side effects from wearing contacts too long

8 Terrible Side Effects from Wearing Contacts Too Long

Contact lenses are a great medical device that help millions of people see clearly. They have come a long way. In terms of breath-ability, wear-ability, and comfort. But, there are real sight-threatening dangers associated with wearing contacts too long that you need to know about! 

So what’s the big deal?

Leaving contacts in for too long, or worse yet, sleeping in them is unsafe. Contact lenses are simply not designed to withstand either of these negligent practices. The longer a contact is worn, the less oxygen the eye receives. This is because the way the cornea is designed, it must receive oxygen directly from the air, and a contact lens inhibits this process. Wearing contacts too long is called ‘overwear’, and it can result in some fairly serious issues.

Symptoms of wearing contacts too long!

It goes without saying, the eye needs adequate oxygen to properly function! Without it, contact wearers can suffer a number of brutal side effects from overwear such as:

  1. Eye pain
  2. Blurred vision
  3. Photophobia (light sensitivity)
  4. Red eye
  5. Excessive tearing
  6. Overgrowth of surrounding blood vessels
  7. Eye ulcer
  8. Irritated eyes

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms from contact lens overwear, Dr. Sharma recommends patients visit their family eye doctor. An optometrist can further advise on how to treat the issue depending on your specific situation. However, you are usually advised to stop wearing contacts temporarily. An examination of the eye will be done to assess the degree of inflammation, and a topical medication or steroid, if any, will be recommended.

Once you get the okay from your optometrist to wear contacts again, it is important that a contact lens fitting and perhaps some additional instruction be carried out.

How do I care for my contacts?

It’s important that you properly use and care for your contacts. Although there are many different types of contacts, generally you should:

  • Use contacts according to the period prescribed
  • Handle contacts with good hygiene
  • Disinfect contacts as recommended
  • See an optometrist for regular eye exams

It’s important that you pay particular attention to the last point mentioned. Without a regular eye exam, eye diseases and conditions can go undiagnosed. A proactive approach is the best approach when it comes to your eyes. At Inner Harbour Optometry we do our very best to ensure patients are meeting their regular eye exam appointments because we know it can save your eyesight!

If you are unsure about how to care for your specific contact lens brand, book a contact lens teaching session. One of our staff will be able to re-educate you on how to properly wear and use your contacts.


If you have questions about contact lenses or need a contact lens fit, give us a call or book online with Dr. Sharma.

We are your local Victoria Optometrist Clinic! 

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11 replies
  1. Rija Khan
    Rija Khan says:

    Hey doctor I am wearing contact lenses when I am going to out door and when I am come to home I am wearing glasses.. so it is dangerous to put on glasses after removing the contract lenses and the number of lenses and glasses are different? Plz answer me

    • Scott Irvine
      Scott Irvine says:

      Hi Rija,
      It is perfectly safe (and in fact encouraged) to switch between contact lenses and glasses. Contact lenses and glasses often have slightly different prescriptions, as they need to be adjusted for a prescription that sits right on your eye [contact lens] vs in a frame away from your eye [glasses].
      -Dr. Irvine

  2. Sam Holmes
    Sam Holmes says:

    Hello Doctor,
    I had been wearing my temporary contacts for about twice as long as recommended. Now my lacrimal glands are extremely enlarged. I stopped wearing them altogether almost 2 months ago, but the swelling is in getting worse. There’s no pain or other symptoms, but I’m curious as to what it might be.

    • Scott Irvine
      Scott Irvine says:

      Hi Sam,
      If you have stopped wearing your contact lenses and are noticing an enlargement of the glands around your eyes, it would be a good idea to get your eyes checked to rule-out any infection. Normally an infection would present with some sort of discharge (either mucous-like or watery), but if the infection goes deeper into certain structures all you might notice is swelling.
      – Dr. Irvine

  3. Tom Reynolds
    Tom Reynolds says:

    Hi i would like to comment on this post. If possible can a dr. Respond to me. I have a weird situation with my eyes.. i know this sounds terrible but i wear daily lenses for months without ever taking them out. I only take them out if my eye bothers me and then I put new ones in. I also have been using the same 90 day daily supply for 6 years now. (And I still have a bunch left). I go to my optometrist every year for a checkup and my eyes are perfect other than needing corrective lens . Which is why I wear contacts. At one point a couple years ago an optometry student assisting my optomitrist mentioned Teflon eyes. Is this something I might have? I mean I never have any eye irritation and I am the worst at taking care of my eyes.. just curious seerms my optometrist didnt want to admit it when i asked him .he just said i shouldnt do what I do. Oh well thanks guys. I know I’m super lucky

    • Scott Irvine
      Scott Irvine says:

      Hi Tom,
      Over extending the use of contact lenses is a fairly common bad habit, but wearing a daily lens for months could put you at risk for potential infection. There really isn’t any clinical term called “Teflon Eyes”; I think the student was inferring that your eyes are just more resilient to over wear of contacts. We do see patients that abuse their contact lens replacement schedule and don’t have any problems with their eyes, but it doing so you’re playing with a ticking time bomb. Contact lenses are like a sponge, and the longer you wear them the more microbes and infection-causing agents build up in that lens. If the lenses are over six years old, the solution keeping those lenses sterile may be expired as well. Furthermore, the damage from contact lens over wear often isn’t felt but seen on routine exams.
      – Dr. Irvine

    • Thomas A Goenner
      Thomas A Goenner says:

      This sounds Exactly the way I do my contacts . I do have a buildup of excess tissue outside of the lens on bottom outside corners, (ulsers?) that hasn’t really been a problem ‘yet’. I get 2-3 months from a pair of contacts. I have been doing this for at least 25 years. Guess I’ve been extremely lucky also!!! (knock on wood! )
      (Left ulser about 12 yrs ago. Right one about 7 yrs ago????)
      Good Luck!

  4. Abioye Debbie
    Abioye Debbie says:

    Hi doctor
    Like a month ago
    I have some issue with my eye like swelling and excess tearing
    So my doctor said I have an epithelial defeat on my eye
    So she told me to stop using my contact lenses for like a month till I finish the drug she gave me
    But the day I put my contact lenses on my eye after a month of removing it my eye swell up a little bit it was peppering me and am feeling some pain
    Please what can I do
    Please I need a doctor to reply me

  5. Abiha Chaudhry
    Abiha Chaudhry says:

    Hello doctor…
    I used to wear contacts daily for like 6 hours maximum but yesterday i wore them for 19 hours..And now there is very bad swelling,redness in my left eye and pain also…and i cant even open my eye in light…What should i do..?

    • Balraj Sharma
      Balraj Sharma says:

      Hi Abiha. It sounds like you have an eye infection! You need to have your eye examined right away so that we can prescribe an appropriate eye drop. For now make sure that you throw away your existing contacts and case.

      If you have a corneal ulcer this can cause permanent blindness so it is urgent that you have your eyes checked right away.

      I hope this helps Abiha.

  6. vie
    vie says:

    Hello doctor,
    i have a minor laceration just below my eyes (one on each side, the left eye laceration stings a little while the right doesn’t), kind of where my eyebags are , and I was wondering if there were any reasons you could give as to why I might have gotten it. Note: I wear contact lenses.

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