Don't sleep in contact lenses! Infections from contacts - A State of Sight #95

Sleeping in contacts is very dangerous for your eyes. Contacts should always be removed at night to help lower the risk of an eye infection.

Watch this episode of A State of Sight with Isaac Porter, MD from Raleigh to learn why you shouldn't sleep wearing contact lenses.

Welcome to A State of Sight, I’m Isaac Porter from Raleigh and this is your update in ophthalmology and eye care. Today I would like to explain why you shouldn’t sleep in your contact lenses.
This can be very dangerous, and although many people frequently sleep with contacts, we never recommend it. The main reason is that sleeping in contact lenses gives you a 400% greater chance for an ulcer or serious infection in the eye.
If you look back at A State of Sight #60, I go into more detail about corneal ulcers but basically these are often caused by bacteria that can build up and then invade the cornea in the front of the eye. Other things like fungus or parasites can also cause contact lens related infections. These ulcers need to be treated very aggressively either with antibiotics other treatments for fungus or parasites to kill the infection.
After the infection clears there is always a scar that is left behind. If the scar is near the edge of the cornea, it may not affect the vision much, but if the scar is in the center, it can cause permanent vision loss. There can be treatments for the scar and usually the scar will fade some with time but it may be persistent.
The reason why the chance for infection goes up is primarily because the contact lens does not allow oxygen to reach the surface of the cornea. You can imagine if you wear the contact lens all the time and you also sleep in it overnight your eyelids are covering your eyes as well as the contact lens, creating even more barriers for oxygen passing through.
We recommend our patients take out their contacts every night. Also, make sure to replace the contact lenses when they are scheduled to be replaced, either daily, two weeks, or monthly. Contacts lose their breathability and flexibility over time if they aren’t changed when scheduled.
Also replace the contact lens case at least once every six months. There can be build up of bacteria or other organisms that can cause infection.

If you have any questions about sleeping in contact lenses or any infections related to contacts please post, we will be happy to answer them. We hope to see you again soon next time on A State of Sight.