What Happens If You Sleep With Your Contact Lenses In?

As a contact lens wearing, you know you’re not supposed to sleep with your contacts in – but what if you accidentally fall asleep before taking them out? Here, we’ll take a look at what you can expect if your contacts happen to spend the night in your eyes.

First: What To Do When You Wake Up

When you wake up after a night of sleeping in your contacts, it likely won’t take you long to realize that something is off. You may feel like your eyes are extremely dry, and they may also feel a bit itchy.

You’ll want to remove your lenses as soon as possible. You may find that your lenses are difficult to remove and may feel as if they’re stuck to your eyes. If this happens to you, don’t panic, and don’t tug on your lenses or otherwise force them out of your eyes. Instead, put a few drops of saline solution into your eye to rehydrate the lens. Blink a few times to distribute the drops over the surface of your lens. After a few seconds, it should slide out of your eye as normal.

If you wear daily lenses, throw them away. If you use longer-wear lenses, clean them and place them in the appropriate solution. You’ll want to give your eyes a break from contacts after sleeping in your lenses, so use glasses for the rest of the day.

What To Expect

Contact lenses can alter the shape of your eye, and you may find that your eye feels uncomfortable after you remove your lenses. After some time wearing your glasses, the shape of your eye will return to normal.

When you sleep, your eyes become hydrated from your natural tears, as well as oxygen from your body’s supply. Wearing your lenses while you sleep stops your eyes from getting the water and oxygen they need to fight bacterial infections (like bacterial keratitis), viral/fungal infections. It’s even possible that your eyes could be affected by an amoeba often found in pools, hot tubs, and tap water if you sleep in your contacts.

Sleeping in contacts can leave your eyes more susceptible to problems that could have long-term effects on your vision. In the hours and days following wearing your contacts overnight, your eyes are far more susceptible to infection than normal.

When To Call Your Eye Doctor

If you’re experiencing discomfort after sleeping with your contact lenses in, it will likely subside soon after you remove the lenses from your eyes. If you’re experiencing ongoing pain, blurred vision that doesn’t resolve after you remove your contacts and put on your glasses, contacts that won’t come out after being rehydrated with saline solution, excessive watering, or excessive redness, be sure to reach out to your eye doctor or local urgent care center right away.