Woman holding contact lens near eye.

· Article

Can You Sleep With Contacts In?

· Article

Can You Sleep With Contacts In?

Question: Do you get patients who sleep with their contacts in?

Dr. Burgos: Yes, there are plenty of patients who do sleep with their contact lenses. For some it is unintentional: they just fall asleep and then realize they still have their contacts in. There are also those who do it on purpose — whether they have the right contact lenses or not; there are some contact lenses that are specifically approved for night wear.

Q: Are FDA-approved overnight lenses okay to sleep in?

Dr. Burgos: No, even with the lenses that are specifically used for overnight use, it is just not a good idea.

Q: What happens to the eye when someone sleeps with their contacts in?

Dr. Boxer Wachler: The cornea is covered by the contact lens the whole time while they’re sleeping, so it may not get enough of the nutrients that it normally would, when you don’t have the contact lens in while you’re sleeping.

Q: What are some of the risks of sleeping with contacts in?

Dr. Boxer Wachler: The main risk is a cornea infection, which could cause significant scarring of the cornea and loss of vision. The worst complication I’ve seen from this is needing a cornea transplant because of the scarring from the very serious infection. There are other side effects that can happen to your cornea that are not an infection, per se, but can cause a corneal abrasion, where your epithelium gets scratched off the cornea from the contact lens. That can be very painful.

Q: What about napping with your contacts in?

Dr. Burgos: If you take a 10- or 20-minute nap, the eyes are going to feel a little hazy and maybe feel a little dry. But that’s not the end of the world. It’s just the extended 7, 8 hours of sleep that are going to cause problems when you do that chronically.

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