Many of our patients enjoy the convenience of sleeping in their contact lenses. The newer generations of lens materials offers comfort and safety never before experienced by contact lens wearers! Despite the many product improvements which continue to impress us, there is always a downside to sleeping in your contacts too frequently!
Most types of lenses for overnight wear are approved for two to four weeks. Manufacturers, however, recommend a maximum of six nights with your lenses in and then removing them for one night.
As eye care professionals, we take an extra step for the safety and health of your eyes and prescribe that you remove your contacts as often as possible. We also prescribe that you give your eyes a minimum of one complete day of rest per week and wear your glasses.
Taking regular breaks from your contacts is important for maintaining the long-term health of your eyes. Your eyes have two main structures that contact lenses are touching, the cornea and the eyelid. The cornea is a clear window on the front of the eye. It is perhaps the most sensitive part of the entire body. Anyone who has scratched their eye knows how painful an irritated cornea can become! Regularly wearing your contacts overnight will negatively affect the cornea by reducing oxygen flow. Over weeks and months this uninterrupted reduction of oxygen has the potential to cause the cornea to break down and form painful ulcers.
The eyelid is affected by rubbing and abrasion by the contact lens. The added thickness of a contact can cause the conjunctiva (the underpart of the eyelid) to begin to become inflamed. When the exposure is 24/7 the irritated lid begins to produce more proteins that build up on the contact which makes the lens even more irritating to the eye.
Don’t let this information discourage you from wearing contact lenses because there is a simple way to avoid these problems from developing — remove your contacts regularly. This will allow your cornea to “breathe” and recuperate.
It also allows the eyelid to stay quiet and healthy. If there is not a pressing need to sleep in your contacts, we recommend that you consider daily disposable, or “one and done” contacts — this is by far the healthiest and safest way to wear contact lenses!