A Clearer View

Latest treatment options and news about cataracts, dry eye syndrome and other eye care topics.

Sleeping with Contact Lenses Poses Serious Risks

by Damion Wasylow 17 October 2019 00:48 AM

woman putting in her contact lens
Nearly 45 million people in the United States wear contact lenses for vision correction. When used as directed, contacts are a safe and effective option that offer wearers unparalleled lifestyle flexibility. Unfortunately, studies show 40% to 90% of contact lens wearers do not properly follow care instructions, even sleeping with their contacts in, placing them at serious risk for dangerous infections and blinding ulcers. 

When you sleep with contact lenses in your eyes, your risk of corneal infection increases tenfold. That’s crucial enough to restate…you are TEN TIMES more likely to suffer an infection of your cornea if you wear your contacts while you sleep overnight.

The cornea – the eye's clear, protective outer layer – is a living, breathing tissue. In fact, it’s the only part of the body that receives oxygen directly from environmental air instead of through the body’s bloodstream. Without sufficient oxygen, corneal cells break down, making it easier for bacteria and viruses to infect the eye.

Wearing contact lenses limits the amount of oxygen available to corneal cells. When worn as directed during waking hours, the reduction is manageable and considered safe. When you then sleep with your contacts in, however, your closed eyelids further limit oxygen exposure for an extended period, and cells can begin to die. 

“The excess risks of developing corneal infection with overnight wear of contact lenses has been recognized for many years,” explains Dr. Oliver Schein, professor of ophthalmology, and vice-chair for quality and safety with the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University. 

Dr. Schein also points out that wearing contact lenses overnight reduces tear production, increases temperature and elevates humidity while trapping microbes against the eye surface, a recipe for germ growth and, “microtrauma to the surface of the cornea.”

At North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care, we’ve seen the results firsthand. Just last week, a patient visited our practice complaining of sore eyes and poor vision after wearing her contact lenses too long. Upon evaluation, we determined that over-wear of her contacts resulted in serious damage to her corneas, requiring a delicate surgical procedure. Thankfully, our own Dr. Matthew Gray is a corneal specialist. Dr. Gray performed the surgery a few days later and the patient is now on the road to recovery.

If you’re considering contact lenses for your vision correction, are interested in a new contact lens prescription or need treatment for any contact lens-related issues, call North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300. Our talented team of opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists are here to provide the guidance and care you need to improve your vision and keep your eyes healthy for years to come.



Comments (0)

Blog Links