Can I sleep with my contact lenses?

For many contact lens wearers, it's essential to understand that sleeping with lenses in (unless explicitly authorised by an optician) can pose significant risks to eye health. Here's why:

  • Sleeping in contact lenses, especially those not designed for overnight wear, significantly increases the risk of severe eye infections.
  • The combination of a closed-eye environment and the presence of a contact lens can reduce the oxygen supply to the cornea, leading to complications.
  • Wearing lenses during sleep can lead to discomfort, redness, dryness, and even blurred vision when you wake up.

While some people can sleep with lenses in, it must be under the guidance and authorisation of an optician to ensure it's safe and suitable for the individual.
Additionally, the optician may recommend changing the current lenses if they are not designed to be worn for extended period of time.

What lens can be slept in?

It’s imperative to understand that not all contact lenses are made for overnight or extended wear. Only specific lenses, recommended by an optician, should be used for this purpose. Lenses not designed for extended wear but used for extended period of time can result in splitting, tearing, or disintegrating during wear, which can lead to serious eye health issues.


There are specific contact lenses designed for extended wear, which means they can be worn continuously for several days or even weeks. These lenses are manufactured with materials that allow a greater amount of oxygen to pass through to the cornea, making them more suitable for prolonged wear, including during sleep.

Who may be a suitable candidate for Extended Wear lenses?

Factors that may make someone a good candidate include:

  • Individuals with a track record of excellent eye health, free from frequent infections or other complications.
  • Those whose activities, work environment, and sleep patterns, such as those involving shift work or other night work patterns, are conducive to wearing extended wear lenses.
  • Those who have demonstrated rigorous cleaning and lens care routines to minimise the risk of infections.
  • Being committed to regular follow-ups with an optician to monitor eye health.
  • Those that do not have an underlying health condition that may predispose them to complications on the eyes.

Who may be advised against sleeping in lenses?

While some individuals can safely use extended wear lenses, others may be advised against it due to various reasons:

  • Those with conditions like dry eyes, blepharitis, frequent eye infections, or other conditions (like diabetes, autoimmune diseases, thyroid disorders, high blood pressure, etc.) might be advised against overnight lens wear.
  • Individuals who struggle to maintain a consistent lens cleaning routine or who frequently wear their daily wear lenses beyond the recommended duration.
  • People who have previously experienced issues such as corneal abrasions, ulcers, or other lens-related complications.
  • Those working in environments with a lot of dust, smoke, or other irritants which can increase the risk of complications when combined with extended lens wear.
  • Individuals who don't see their optician regularly might not be deemed suitable for extended wear lenses due to the lack of ongoing eye health monitoring.

If you're considering sleeping with contact lenses, always consult with your optician. They will determine if it's appropriate for you and will recommend the right type of lens based on your eye health and lifestyle.

 

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