Why You Need to Take Out Your Contacts Every Night

Soft contact lenses are quite technologically advanced. They can correct for large refractive errors; they can correct for astigmatism; and they can actually breathe when on your eye. They are so comfortable that wearers can be tempted to leave them in overnight or sometimes even when taking a shower or swimming.

Bad idea.

While some contacts have said they are 24-hour and you could wear them for really long periods of time, you need to remove them every night. Let’s get into why.

The problems with wearing contacts for too long

Some contacts are called “extended wear” and this confuses people. It doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to wear your contact lenses for days at a time. There are problems when people wear their soft contacts overnight when sleeping, namely dangerous infections and corneal ulcers, among other things. These conditions can cause permanent vision loss, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The usual culprit is called keratitis. Keratitis is inflammation of the cornea, and it is responsible for about one million outpatient and emergency room visits each year, according to the CDC.

People who wear their contact lenses when sleeping have a ten times greater risk of developing corneal infections. When you sleep and your eyes are closed, it favors microbial (germ) growth. This is because there is a drop is tear production (which periodically washes your cornea) and a rise in temperature and humidity. Plus, the lenses can cause microtrauma to the surface of the cornea, helping the germs have a place to lodge.

Another reason for problems is that our corneas don’t receive oxygen from our blood supply; they receive oxygen only from the outside atmosphere. Wearing contact lenses further reduces the oxygen while asleep. This limits the ability of the cornea to fight off microbes.

Another common problem of people who sleep in their contacts, according to the CDC, is that they tend to shower with them in place, as well. Tap water, just like water in lakes, pools, ponds, and oceans, can have microbes that can lead to serious eye infection.

Daily wear

The best solution, according to the CDC, is to opt for daily wear lenses. That way you don’t even have to fuss with lens solution and lens cases (another prime spot for lackadaisical care, allowing contact contamination). You simply wear a new pair every day and discard them when you go to bed.

Or, if you like your extended care lenses, wear them like daily wear lenses. Take them out every night and wash them thoroughly in new cleaning solution. Then place them in their case in new cleaning solution. In the morning, rinse them in new solution and place them in your eyes. Let the lens cases dry all day before you put the lenses back in that night.

Take good care of your contact lenses and they will be the comfortable solution allowing you to put away your eyeglasses that you expect them to be. Just don’t sleep, shower, or swim in them. And if you develop a painful red inflammation in your eye or eyes, give us a call at Central Valley Eye Medical Group immediately. Call us at (800) 244-9907.

Posted in: Optical Services


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