What is the danger of not taking off my contact lenses? (I like to sleep in with them)

Leaving contact lenses in overnight may not seem like a big deal, but understanding the problems which this bad habit may cause will make the effort of removing them and cleaning them seem well worthwhile! Almost two thirds of wearers said they would prefer to keep contact lenses in overnight if they could, so it is a common and convenient preference. Of course sleeping in contact lenses overnight is a different matter than dozing off in a chair for a nap, which is not a problem. The tissue of your eye really needs oxygen, otherwise it will begin to swell up and cause your vision to become blurred. If your eye tissue continues to be deprived of the oxygen it needs, then in extreme cases some small blood vessels may develop into the cornea in order to supply the tissue with the required oxygen. Left unchecked these blood vessels may grow long enough to block the vision permanently. Keeping contact lenses in is like keeping the eye underwater without any oxygen for days at a time. You can imagine that would not be at all healthy or good for the eyes, and keeping contact lenses in longer than they are designed for will have the same detrimental effect.

Sleeping with contact lenses

Secondly, sleeping with the contact lenses in does not give the eyes a break and therefore the eyes are more likely to suffer an infection, inflammation and abrasions. When you are awake your eyes continually produce tears to wash away germs, but during sleep this does not happen and bacteria and debris can collect and cause problems. If your eyes become red, teary, swollen and painful or are more sensitive than usual, you need to see an eye doctor immediately. In some cases, you may not feel discomfort after over-wearing and sleeping in your contact lenses. Oxygen deprivation can cause a reduction in corneal sensitivity which can be very dangerous because you are not aware of any discomfort associated with an infection or abrasion until the problem is very serious and sight threatening.

The Simple Answer

What is the danger of not taking off my contact lenses?

Extended wear contact lenses have now been developed for those who want or need to sleep in contact lenses. They are made of a special silicone hydrogel and allows more oxygen to pass through the lens to the cornea. This avoids many of the problems associated with wearing ordinary contact lenses overnight. Extended Wear lenses are intended for multiple day use and may be worn continuously for the prescribed wearing period before being discarded. These lenses are designed to last from 7 days up to 30 days, depending upon the intended use period, which will be clearly stated. Currently 'Air Optix Night and Day' are the only contact lenses approved for 30-day wear. It offers the highest oxygen permeability compared to other lenses. For those who want to wear contact lenses overnight, these are the best choice as they are designed with that in mind. If the instructions are followed, there is little risk of infection. The 30 day contact lenses certainly take the hassle out of wearing contact lenses, and wearers almost forget that they actually need them. Some doctors will still recommend taking the lens out one night a week to allow the eye to take a break. Although initially eye infections were common, these longer-lasting lenses have now largely overcome the initial problems. However, 30 days continuous wear is not suitable for some people. Those who have a history of problems with wearing contact lenses or whose eyes need a break from time to time are not advised to consider long time spans for wearing these extended wear lenses. Speak to your eye doctor if you are interested in extended wear contact lenses.

Warning about sleeping with contacts - By Chad a visitor on this site:

"Let me be your warning to sleeping with contacts. I've been sleeping with them for years until, last week when I had an irritation that I thought was nothing. It turned out that I have a serious Pseudnomonas bacterial infection that has caused a large corneal ulcer which may never heal. I've been on 2 different antibiotics eye drops every 30 minutes during the day and every 2 hours during the night for the past 7 days.

Not to mention an expensive eye cream called Tobradex which is around $200 for a small tube applied 4 times a day, one of the eye drops Moxeza will cost around $150 for a tiny 3ml bottle. I've yet to regain my sight back and my quality of life is terrible with the nausea that comes with not seeing out of one eye and unable to work at this time because of the pain from light. You can't just throw an eye patch on because the eye needs to breath. There's a possibility I may need a corneal transplant. Never sleep in them even if they tell you it's ok, never use old solution that's in your case because bacteria love living there, always scrub your hands before and after touching your lenses and change that case every 3 months. So keep sleeping in those contacts and believing that you will never have any problems, your operating table is waiting."

* Chad's warning relates to contacts that were not intended for overnight use. Be careful and always consult with your eye doctor!

Have you slept with your contact lenses? What did you experience? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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Comments

I use to sleep with my

I use to sleep with my contacts for a long time. It ruined my eyes. The doctor said it caused all this gross build up around my eyes. I stopped sleeping with my contacts lenses now.

It should say in the

It should say in the instructions but it's normally around 8 hours

Kidding?

Keeping contact lenses in is like keeping the eye underwater without any oxygen for days at a time. You can imagine that would not be at all healthy or good for the eyes, and keeping contact lenses in longer than they are designed for will have the same detrimental effect.

You're kidding with your underwated comment, right? Or don't you know that things live and breathe underwater? Including creatures that have eyes.

I like your underwater

I like your underwater analogy. Your eyes do need oxygen, and when you wear your contacts over the period stated on the box it can have adverse effects.

What about those new "night" contacts tough? Air Optix? Is that safe?

night contacts

I head them for 1y. But if you do to much sport your eyes will heat up so they are great if you dont play for more then an houwer. Ps you have to take them out for 24 houers once a week

Yes. But I tthink he's

Yes. But I tthink he's comparing your eye to a human. Pretty sure humans don't live and breathe under water

Underwater

Well don't you know that those creatures have adapted and are made to live and see underwater? As humans we are quite the opposite.

That's a bunch of crap, all

That's a bunch of crap, all tissues in our body receive oxygen by flow of blood. Our eyes don't 'breathe' oxygen, they receive it from the blood that was just oxygenated in the lungs. Keeping contact lenses in your eye can dry out the eye (making it really uncomfortable), also, there is a physical object in your eye and, as the body's response, inflammation will occur because the eye is irritated. This will result in a higher chance of infection.

Really

If you have blood vessels growing through your eye, you are safe.Good luck with that. Most of us have an vascular cornea allowing us to see and those cells get a majority of their O2 from the air that contacts them.

oops

thats avascular cornea

I'm terrible with contacts.

I have worn contacts for 20+years. Now with these air optix... I've become so lazy, i got my last script 9 months ago and literally just took them out for the first time last night. NINE MONTHS!!! Now i know this isn't smart but i only need drops as soon as i awaken. Two drops each eye and I'm good till tomorrow. I haven't experienced any I'll effects thus far. Insanely lucky? Perhaps. I liked to have never found my glasses lol.
All right, lemme have it. ;)

I am using Air Optix too.

I have been using Air Optix too and I too have become lazy and wear them for 2-3 days continuously. It makes my eye really dry after that. I thought of googling it and the kind of pictures of infections and stuff I have come across I am never going to sleep in my contacts again.
You're insanely lucky to have worn it for 9 months and not have anything happened.

Just took them out

I just took mine out after a month or so.. but I never got any infection, inflammation or dry eyes.
Honestly.. .if anything this side effects can be caused by the person and environment.
What I will tell you, is that it feels weird to be without them.. you can feel the difference in the eyes.

Contacts in overnight

Thank you, I totally agree with you. I have left mine overnight on weekly basis for 20 years now. And I'm totally fine and have no damage. I will wear them for five straight nights and take a night off and then wear them again .. oh, did I mention that my one week I contacts will last over a month

Sleeping with my contacts

I've had some long nights of studying and forgotten to take my contacts out. Not always pleasant in the morning but not really a big issue.

Sleeping in contacts

These people are either trying to scare us or I am one lucky guy. I absolutely never take my lenses out. I haven't quite made 1 year yet, but I've gone 8-9 months on several occations without taking my contacts out. I've been doing this for about 20 years! I'm 34 years old and I started wearing disposable lenses in Jr. High when I started playing sports. Never had a problem, not once. And I've never had an eye doctor tell me something was wrong with my eyes.

Same here I've been wearing

Same here I've been wearing contacts for about 5 years now and I've had them in for over a year at a time and I've never had a problem.

I currently can't afford to

I currently can't afford to buy contacts or see the eye doctor (no insurance) so I've been wearing the same pair for over a year too. I can't wear my glasses because the prescription is so old and they give me severe headaches whenever I put them on. My eyes get really irritated but that's about it. Have you experienced any symptoms now?

same experience

I too have kept my contacts in my eyes for like months at a time. I've worn contacts for 20 years now. Never had a problem. Wonder if it's all BS?

Similar experience

I have been seeing contacts for ten years and have yet to have issues. I typically leave my contacts in for 3 - 4 months and then will wear glasses for 3-4 days. I have never had an eye infection or any other issue. When I first take my contacts out there is some hardness on the lens of the eye from buildup but after the 3-4 days it is gone. I also have not seem decreased vision in 4-5 years.

Leaving them in

Yeah, it's like saying "due to lung cancer, I've lost one of my lungs, but I've cut my smoking in half!

eye pressure

Does anyone know if wearing contacts for long periods of time (weeks-months) can cause an increase in eye pressures. I am talking about non-extended wear.

Just healed from a 4-yr-long infection

I had contact lenses in middle school (I'm in high school now) and I loved the feeling of wearing contacts. I slept in them -- not every night, but some nights. I ended up getting some eye disease like keratitis, but worse. I hopped around from doctor to doctor; almost every doctor I visited would refer me to a better one, until I ended up having to go to one who works an hour away because no one else could treat me. I tried at least 5 types of eye drops. All of them stung. And all of which worked VERY slowly. My doctor told me that my recovery was about luck -- I could have this disease for years and years, or my eyes could recover -- with permanent damage, but still. It took me 4 painful years to recover -- 4 years of embarrassment. Because I would come to school every day and everyone would think I was crying. Because it was hard for me to learn to drive due to my sensitive eyes being unable to handle even small amounts of sunlight. Because walking in a slight breeze (weather that I love) made my eyes water like a leaking faucet. My classmates made dun of me for having "pink eye." Because I had no choice but to wear glasses for 1 year of middle school and 3 years of high school, and personally, that killed my self-esteem stone dead. The doctor appointments and medication added up to thousands of dollars, and I couldn't feel worse about that.
My eyes are healed now, but as my doctor said, they're like the eyes of a 40-yr-old (I'm 17). Yes, I wear contacts now, but I wear toric ones due to the damaged shape of my eye -- contacts you have to align, and if you get it wrong (which is very easy to do), you go the entire day with blurry vision. It's still hard on my eyes to handle wind and sunlight. I constantly have dry eyes, and have to carry around eye drops everywhere I go.
So yes, you can get an eye infection, and it can heal. I was very, very lucky that my infection did. But it's an understatement to say that permanent eye damage, and YEARS of constantly red, sensitive eyes, was not in the slightest worth sleeping in my contacts once in a while.
BE CAREFUL. If you sleep in them one night, wear glasses the next day to give your eyes a chance to breathe and recover. Getting up when you're exhausted isn't the end of the world. So do it, because I promise you, it's not worth the risk.

I used to sleep with my

I used to sleep with my contacts in all the time. I never changed them, and would continue to wear the same contacts until I got a new pair (a month later). One morning I woke up with a sever headache, bloodshot eye and some loss of vision. Be careful and follow the instructions people.

wearing contact lenses while sleeping

I accidentally wore my contact lenses to sleep.. I was using a daily disposable lens.. Will there be any problem? I Thnk there's a slight blurring of vision.. Bt I don't know whether its my imagination lol.. And there was little mucus like substance in my eyelid when I woke up.. Do I need to administer son eye drops or smthng?

reply

I used daily disposable contacts and I kept them in for months at a time and Im perfectly fine besides having dry eyes

I also need an answer to what

I also need an answer to what you typed. Lately I have been sleeping with my contacts in and I feel my eyes might be getting a bit blurry. Usually I wake up with a mucus like substance on my eyelid. What can be the issue? I am really worried!! Decided to wear glasses for at least a month now.

long term contact wearing

I use biofinity lenses with a rated continuous use period of 30 days and use high oxygen flow. I have been using these lenses for nearly 2 years and began using them as I was having problems with irritation issues from inserting/removing lenses daily. I wear them for the stated 30 days and sometimes longer as i forget I have them in :). I have had no problems of any kind and find them the most comfortable lenses I have ever used. I do however take them out for a day or so if my eyes feel tired etc. and i clean them once weekly/fortnightly. I also ensure that my hands and area are as clean as possible when handling them. I agree with the write up about being health concious and don't ignore any discomfort. I use contacts as I wish to see properly without the need for wearing glasses (and finding them or carrying them) I certainly do not want them to be the cause of further reducing my eye health and vision. My suggestion is do the research! Ask questions and make an informed decision that suits your needs and lifestyle that minimises risks to your health. I also would like to point out that all of the problems listed here are complications that can arise from using contacts full stop! daily, weekly or monthly contact use comes with associated risks. as does driving your car.

My 6 year story.

I've had contacts since I was 15, air optics aqua to be exact. I only wear/need one in my right eye. About a month or so after I started wearing my contacts, I just stopped taking them out at night for about a week at a time. Then a couple weeks at a time. I did this for a few years. I eventually felt comfortable enough to just replace my contact once a month and my eye would only be slightly irritated for a few minutes and then I would be ok. 6 years later today I'm still doing this. I literally woke up 10 minutes ago and my current contact has been in for about 2 weeks now and I'm not typing this and reading all these because I was curious if what I was doing was bad. I work for quality inspection company and love having contacts because glasses glare and get dirty way too easily! I'm not trying to get anybody to do what I have done, I'm just sharing my experience.

Ocular Hypertension

Really not too sure if the two are related, but here's my experience. I have used AirOptix before and have slept in them especially during deployments. Pretty sure the contacts were to be used for 7 days and then replaced, and not meant to wear 7 days straight. However, I have gone months with wearing one pair and no counteractions, no irritations, no infections, maybe a little dry eyes, but for the most part completely fine. It has been 3.5 years since I have had LASIK. I was diagnosed 8.5 years ago with Ocular Hypertension at the age of 19. I first started wearing contacts my junior year of high school, probably 16-17 years old. Now, at the age of 28, I am a Glaucoma suspect still with Ocular Hypertension, no Glaucoma at the moment. There is aso large cupping in my optic nerve, but everything has been consistent throughout the past 8.5 years. These are my only two symptoms according to the Ophthalmologist. Like I first stated, not too sure if the extended wear of contacts is contributed to my condition years later, but at those moments I was perfectly great.

Extended wear vs daily scrubbing

I used to wear Alcon Dailies due to ease of use, and suffered daily discomfort because it felt like the contacts were 'biting' my eyes because of oxygen deprivation. After trying a few different alternatives (monthly contacts), I settled on CV Biofinity. It took me a long time to find a suitable cleansing regimen that didn't irritate my eyes, because everything does. In the end, I started off cleaning with Ote Clean, then a second cleaning with a regular MPS, then rinsing with saline, finally EasySept peroxide to disinfect overnight. Once a week, I did an additional cleaning with Ultrazyme. I thought that was the pinnacle of my set-up... Recently I've been through some personal issues and I've been drinking a lot, not bothering to take out my contacts and clean them. First a couple of days, then a week or two, now 3 weeks... Ironically, my Biofinity contacts feel much better if I just leave them in! I think 2 weeks is the sweet spot for me. I just use some Blink-N-Clean drops (designed for extended wear contacts) in the morning, at night and sometimes throughout the day as needed... And my contacts now hardly ever give me discomfort, compared to when I did the full daily cleansing with like, the most complete and anti-allergic routine one could think of... Where I would often experience some kind of discomfort throughout most days... Now, most of the time I just forget that I'm even wearing contacts, which is exactly what I always wanted! My eyes prefer extended wear apparently, and so do I... :-)

Re: Extended wear vs daily scrubbing

Forgot to mention that I also *always* do a saline rinse & rub before putting contacts in, that's after they come out of the neutralized EasySept (basically saline at that point), but especially for contacts that come out of a blister, these too irritate my eyes due to the moisturizing & preserving compounds they put into these fluids... Which practically resemble an MPS. I've tried to insert fresh lenses a few times without the rinse, thinking I was imagining things... I wasn't... ;-)

Chads comment

Chads comment does not only refer to contacts not intended for overnight wear. Even contacts that claim to be for extended use are not recommended by most eye doctors including my own. This is an unsafe marketing ploy.

Pls Be on a safer side

I have about -2.5 no in both eyes I just started using lenses before 7 days yesterday I was so comfortable in my lenses that I wore that more than 12 hours and also had 5 hrs sleep with lens on . I was using baush and Lomb company lenses as I heard a good name of the brand but after sleeping with lenses on next day I am feeling very blury and head pain
I suggest U all that eye is very precious gift of lord please don't forget to remember to take your lenses and sleep.
Don't just buy relay on lenses for their please always be on a safer side if u feel any symptoms of blur vision, head ache, pain in/on eyes immediately consult a doctor . The problem can further be serious please don't take any chances with your eyes

contact overuse

I am a 20 year old male with a history of good/average immune system, of course that wouldn't help me in a case of eye health as much, I believe myself to be "OK" sleeping in my contacts but have always wondered what the effects were. Right off the bat I was what one could call scared of overuse of any kind, due to my cousin having done it about a month before I had aqquired my own contacts; and had found she may need to have her eye removed after just one week of doing so. Of course, she had not been in possession of the contacts that allow for more than said time, or continuous wear in the first place, and I had been, but was still pretty freaked. I got over this fear though soon after realizing I was not in the same danger, or so I believed and am now 4 years later second guessing. No real or should I say noticable effects have taken place aside from the obvious irritation in the side of the eyes, being my que to remove them and store them in a case after cleaning them pretty thoroughly and calling it a night. But as of late, I have currently lost my previous job which couldn't have worse timing because I am at the end of my years supply and am in a very tough situation causing me to be now 1 week over what my current contacts allow. I have the 30 days of continuous wear kind, but have been taking them out here and there and doing above said routine about every two weeks until the 30 day mark and since been every 2-3 days, but am extremely concerned for my short term as well as long term eye health. My main problem is I would prefer to keep them in for the majority of the day considering I'm prone to migraines under eye stress of any kind. Being that my eyesight is very terrible, that of which I wouldn't know who my mom was with them out at just 6-10 feet away until she spoke, I'm sure my predicament is somewhat clear. I've spoken to a few eye doctors in the past, but sadly only Walmart vision center ones so I'm not sure how credible my checkups were. Although they all said my eyes we're great on the scans, including my last one, I am paranoid and lead to believe by my own experience as well as others having bad ones, that this may be the death of me. Or my eyes that is. I guess my concern will be finalized with a question such as what should I do, where should I start, and if I continue to do this.... What will happen? I will stay posted on this if any questions on my situation arise, and thank all for taking the time to help.

Sleeping with contacts

I've been sleeping with my contacts for almost six years now and nothing has happened to me (knock on wood). I never wake up feeling uncomfortable and many days I completely forget I even use contacts. I use monthlies and have sometimes (but not anymore) used the same pair for more than a month (like three) while using them to sleep. I swear I feel like I am some crazy exception because I haven't had any problems and my prescription (3.5) has been the same for years.

Same here. I am wearing

Same here. I am wearing contacts for about 5 years now. When I just started, I was taking them out every evening. But then I got lazy, started wearing them from a week, then a month. (I use monthly ones). Now I think I sometimes wear them for 1 - 2 months without taking them out because I just forget that It is time to change them or that I use them. No eye issues, my sight has not changed in past 5 years.ch

Sleeping with contacts

I did a test for my eyes before doing this. My eye sight with my glasses and my contacts were spot on no blur. I went 30 days without taking my contacts out and feel relieved. My eyes were red and eventually went away, but the biggest problem I see is lack of sight. I do notice after 30 days over night and through the day my vision has blurred. Currently I beleive this is why my eye sight is getting worse not better. Results of my eyes were a lot better with glasses but can see that if directions were followed correctly I can improve my sight still using my contacts.

Wearing Contacts While Meditating

What are the chances of getting an eye infection if you are keeping your eyes closed but are not sleeping. My doc told me that tears continue to keep the lens moist if you are awake but if you are asleep, tears stop forming which is not good for contacts. But what about the oxygen supply? If the eyes are closed, they are not getting oxygen, so what is the chance of developing an infection?
Somebody wrote in the comments to replace the lens case every 3 months. Why? Can you not wash them with hot water every once in a while and make them good again?