Nearly every contact lens wearer has been guilty of it once or twice – accidentally falling asleep in their contact lenses in. While almost everyone does it at one point or another, the bottom line is you should endeavor to take your lenses out every night to avoid putting your optical health at risk.
The FDA has warned of the dangers of contact lens misuse, including failing to remove them at night. So what exactly are the risks associated with sleeping in contact lenses?
When you sleep in contacts you run the risk of developing Corneal Neovascularization. This disease of the eyes occurs when not enough oxygen reaches the eyes. With a deprivation of oxygen, abnormal blood vessels grow in the usually clear and translucent cornea. Sufferers of the disease can develop mild to severe decrease of vision. While anyone can develop Corneal Neovascularization it is mainly associated with extended use of contact lenses.
A Corneal Ulcer is an open sore that is formed on the clear layer of the front of the eye known as the cornea. You may notice a number of symptoms before the ulcer is actually formed. Your eyes may become itchy, watery and a discharge may start leaking from them. Some sufferers also experience a burning or stinging infection in the eye. When the ulcer is formed it is typically accompanied by inflammation of the eye, blurred vision, swollen eyelids, sensitivity to light, excessive tearing, sore eyes, a white spot on the cornea and you may feel like you have something in your eye.
This infection can be caused by a number of factors, including wearing contact lenses for too long and sleeping in them. All corneal ulcers should be seen to immediately by a medic to prevent blindness.
If you sleep in your contact lenses you also put yourself at risk of contracting CLARE disease. CLARE stands for ‘Contact Lens Acute Red Eye’. The symptoms of this infection of the eye include redness, pain in the eye and sensitivity to light.
There is also a condition known as GPC which can be caused by a prolonged use of contacts and sleeping in them. GPC stands for ‘Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis’ and consists of small bumps occurring under the eyelids. Sufferers of GPC usually experience mucous discharge and severe itching, particularly when the lenses are removed.
Acanthamoeba Keratitis is a much rarer disease associated with sleeping in contact lenses. It is however one that all contact lens wearers should be aware of. With Acanthamoeba Keratitis amoebae invade the cornea, which causes redness, discomfort and, if left untreated, could even result in permanent impairment to sight.
With the necessary care and attention, including taking your contact lenses out before you go to sleep, the above diseases and conditions are all preventable. Youknowit.com recommend that lenses should never be worn for longer than eight hours at any one time or overnight. Lenses should be cared for and stored proper at room temperature to prevent the risk of diseases.