Sleeping With Contact Lenses (Everything You Need to Know)
With endless information online, it may feel difficult to know which sources to trust and what is really safe. If you’re looking to have all of your ‘sleeping with contact lenses’ questions answered, continue reading to discover expert answers with the safest solutions.
What happens if you sleep with contacts?
The answer is based on the type of contact lens you sleep in and the duration.
It’s important to note that sleeping with contact lenses isn’t advised by eye doctors, opticians, or eye care experts. Accidents happen, and on rare occasions, you may be fine. However, each time you sleep with contact lenses, you’re increasing your chances of developing an eye infection or potentially something worse.
Our cornea is supposed to protect our eyes so we don’t get eye infections every day. However, for the cornea to do its job correctly, it must receive oxygen and be hydrated. To a certain extent, this can be blocked by contact lenses, regardless of the contact lens brand used.
Moreover, the reduction in the oxygen reaching our eyes from wearing contact lenses has a more significant effect when sleeping. When we are awake and our eyes are open, the eyes receive oxygen and hydration through blinking. However, when we are sleeping with contact lenses in, the eyes are shut and are incredibly starved of the oxygen and hydration they need. When the cornea and eyes are starved of oxygen, the eyes go into a ‘hypoxic’ state, which significantly reduces the cornea's rate of fighting off bacteria.
How long can you sleep with contacts in?
If they aren't designed to wear overnight or are not extended-wear contacts, you risk damaging your eyes by sleeping in contact lenses. Whether you wear them for prescription or use coloured contacts, it's critical to remember to take out your contact lenses before going to bed.
Don’t be tempted to take a quick nap in your contacts, either! Even one hour of sleeping in your contact lenses might harm your eyes. Some people's eyes are more sensitive than others and react differently. It's not worth the danger when it comes to your eyes, and experts don't recommend sleeping in contact lenses at all, even for an hour.
If you do sleep with contact lenses in, don't try to pull them out of your eyes right away when you start waking up. You might feel that your eyes are dehydrated or have a build-up. Blink a handful of times and allow them to naturally re-moisturise.
Before handling your contact lenses, wash your hands and carefully remove them from your eyes. If the lenses are daily contacts, dispose of them, and sanitise them adequately if they are monthly or two-week contacts.
If you struggle to remember to take your contact lenses off before going to bed, try taking them out earlier in the evening and using your prescription glasses until it is time to rest your head for the night. You can even get an extra pair of glasses to have on hand for those moments.
The best contact lenses, if any for sleeping, are extended wear lenses. However, they may not be suitable for everyone, so you should consult your optician for their best practice.