What Really Happens When You Sleep in Your Contact Lenses | ExpatWoman.com

What Really Happens When You Sleep in Your Contact Lenses

The doctor's right when they say don't sleep with your contact lenses in, it can cause damage to your eye! Here's why.

Posted on

30 January 2017

Last updated on 21 May 2017
What Really Happens When You Sleep in Your Contact Lenses

We all know that sleeping with your contact lenses in is not recommended by eye doctors, but if you're a frequent wearer of them there's no doubt you've slept with them in (by accident or not) at one point or another. 

Sleeping in Your Contact Lenses


But why can't you sleep in your contacts? Do you know what's actually happening in your eyes when you sleep with them in? 

Basically, the rule is: DON'T sleep with them in, and here's why. 

Sleeping in your contacts disrupts the flow of oxygen to your cornea. Because your contacts are made of plastic, it severely impairs the level of oxygen your eyes are getting. Your cornea is the outer clear covering of your eye, and it's about as thick as an average credit card. 

There's no blood flow to this part of your eye, so it relies only on the oxygen in the air. Of course, when you've got your lenses in, the oxygen flow is impeded and that's a bad thing. When you sleep with your eyes shut, and with your contacts in, those oxygen levels reduce even further causing chaos for our eyeball. 

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When you do sleep with them in, you're also exposing your (now) sensitive eyeball to contact lenses that are potentially dirty and germ-infested. 

It doesn't matter how careful you are, contacts get dirty and can become coated with germs and protein, and so in situations where the physiology of the surface of your eyes is disrupted (like by sleeping with contacts in), you increase damage by germs to your cornea. Which isn't good. Once these germs invade your cornea, that's when keratitis starts. 

Sleeping in contact lenses

Keratitis is the inflammation of the cornea, and it hurts.

Your cornea will swell - not like a cartoonish, popping-out-of-your-head type of swelling, but enough so gaps appear in your eye's surface cells leaving adequate amount of room for nasty bacteria to sneak in. Of course, this also adds to the risk of keratitis and the severity of it. 

The moral of the story? Delay your sleep by (literally) 30 seconds to take your contacts out. It's so worth it.