Do you sleep with your contacts in? If so, you may be putting yourself at significant risk. Although for many people it seems like no big deal, I would strongly advise you to think again! Read this week’s article about sleeping in your contacts, which eye doctors call overwear, and the real dangers associated with it.
Chances are if you are a contact lens wearer you have at one point in time chosen questionable behavior that could put your eyes at risk for an infection. Whether that be sleeping in your contacts, or wearing them past their expiry. I have said this before in posts, and I will say it again, contact lenses are a medical device, so wearers must be informed of how to appropriately wear, and handle them. Otherwise, the potential for developing sight-threatening eye conditions is increased.
Wearing Your Contacts Too Long is Called Overwear
I was really tired and slept with my contacts on…
As an optometrist, when I hear that my patients have slept in their contacts, it really is cringe-worthy. Yes, although, there are specific types of contact brands that do allow you to sleep in them overnight, most patients guilty of sleeping in their contacts, aren’t using these! This is also a prime example of overwear. Overwearing contacts comes down to using contacts beyond their recommended guidelines, or life expectancy. This includes:
- Sleeping in contact lenses not designed for overnight use;
- Using contacts beyond their expiry date;
- Not giving your eyes enough, or any rest from contacts
What Does Oxygen Have To Do With Wearing Contacts?
Most of the issues with wearing contacts too long boils down to the cornea not receiving enough oxygen. Before I go on, I would like to mention that the cornea cannot be transplanted, this is why caring for your eyes proactively is crucial.
Now, in order to understand the dangers associated with sleeping with your contact in, it is important to know a bit about the science behind the eye and contact lenses. The eye needs oxygen in order to function, just like our bodies. The cornea receives oxygen through the air. Since contacts are worn over the eyes, the amount of oxygen received by the eye drops. Although, contact lens technology and their breathability has evolved a great deal from when they were first introduced. Users who leave their contacts in too long are robbing their eyes from necessary oxygen. So, if your sleeping with your contacts on, because your eyes are shut, the cornea is, in essence, being suffocated. Which is needless to say, something you should avoid!
The Nasty Consequences of Overwear
There are many consequences of not wearing contact lenses properly, but I would like to touch on two common eye conditions.
One such consequence is an eye condition called Neovascularization. In this case, your eyes may try to compensate for the lack of oxygen, and begin to grow new blood vessels. Seems harmless right? Wrong, these new blood vessels can continue to grow right into your cornea, hindering your vision. Once these ‘new’ blood vessels appear they do not stop growing, so it is important that appropriate care is taken to ensure they don’t begin to form in the first place.
Another not so nice eye condition that can result from overwear is contact lens acute red eye (CLARE). If you are experiencing redness, pain, excessive tears, itching, or light sensitivity, you may be suffering from this eye condition. Once again, this eye problem generally stems from the eye just not getting enough oxygen and rest from contact lenses. However, you may also develop CLARE if your contact lenses are not fitting well.
Contact lens wearers should ensure their eyes are receiving the necessary rest and care. Otherwise, they are putting their eyes at risk for a whole host of infections, and eye conditions or diseases. If you think you are suffering from contact lens overwear it is best to see your family eye doctor sooner than later.
Just Take 30 Seconds And Take Them Out!
In the grand scheme of things, how long does it really take to remove your contacts? Probably not more than 30 seconds, right? It is completely worth it. You are really risking something that is irreplaceable. Yes, you may have gotten away with sleeping with your contacts up till now, but at some point, you may not be so lucky. Fair warning!
Also, don’t forget to use good hygiene when it comes to your eyes. Simply not washing your hands is inviting a whole bunch of unwanted icky bacteria into your eyes. For more information on how to appropriately remove contacts, click here.
Don’t Skip Your Regular Eye Exam
No one should be missing their annual or bi-annual eye check-up. Many diseases and eye conditions have no symptoms, so an eye exam is an opportunity to identify any real or potential concerns. However, for those who wear contacts, it also allows an eye doctor to ensure your eyes are still being fit with the best contacts. Our eyes are always changing and a contact lens brand you may have worn at one point in time may not work for you later. Lens technology is also always improving. Your family eye doctor will be able to recommend the best available contacts for you based on your eye history.
At Inner Harbour Optometry we take great care in ensuring our patients are reminded of their appointments. You also have the option to book in advance if it is more convenient for you. Don’t have time, book online easily here.
We would love to help you see your very best!