Is It Safe To Wear Contact Lenses During Sleep?


Understanding Contact Lenses and Sleep

Contact lenses have revolutionized vision correction, offering a convenient and aesthetic alternative to glasses. The debate over whether it’s safe to wear contact lenses during sleep is multifaceted, considering factors such as the type of lens, individual eye health, and wearing schedules. The market offers various lens options, with some specialized lenses deemed safe for overnight wear. However, extended use of any contact lens during sleep can pose serious health risks. It’s crucial to delve deeper into the implications of wearing contacts during sleep, the associated risks, and alternative solutions that prioritize both convenience and eye health.

The Eye’s Response to Contact Lenses During Sleep

The eye is a delicate organ that can be disrupted by the presence of a foreign object like a contact lens, especially during sleep. When the eyes are shut, reduced air circulation can amplify the physical impact of the lens. This lack of oxygen supply to the cornea can lead to hypoxia, resulting in corneal swelling, discomfort, blurry vision, and potentially severe complications like corneal ulcers. Additionally, the body’s lowered immune response during sleep increases the risk of infections, particularly with extended contact lens wear.

Risks Associated with Wearing Contact Lenses Overnight

The primary risk of wearing contact lenses during sleep is the heightened possibility of developing eye infections due to bacterial proliferation. Prolonged lens wear, especially overnight, significantly increases the risk of microbial keratitis, a severe corneal infection that can jeopardize vision. Another risk is the development of contact lens acute red eye (CLARE), a non-infectious eye inflammation that can cause discomfort and vision disturbances.

Specialized Contact Lenses for Overnight Use

Specially designed lenses, like silicone hydrogel lenses and Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) lenses, are approved for extended wear, including overnight. These lenses allow more oxygen to reach the cornea, reducing the risk of hypoxia. However, users must adhere to proper hygiene and usage guidelines to mitigate associated risks, as even specialized lenses are not foolproof against complications.

The Safe Bet: Taking Contact Lenses Out Before Sleep

Despite advancements in contact lens technology, the safest approach is to remove them before sleeping to minimize risks and prioritize eye health and comfort. Those seeking vision correction during sleep can explore alternatives like prescription glasses or overnight vision correction methods recommended by eye care professionals. Ultimately, while wearing contact lenses during sleep may seem convenient, the potential risks outweigh the convenience, making it best avoided for optimal eye health and vision quality.

Elena Mars

Elena writes part-time for the Scientific Origin, focusing mostly on health-related issues.