Do You Sleep In Your Contact Lenses? 
If You Are, You Should Be Wearing Extended Wear Lenses

For many people, life is so busy these days that on occasion, a contact lens wearer might sleep in their contact lenses.

Situations like...

  • falling asleep watching TV
  • napping in the afternoon
  • those who sleep at work due to the nature of their jobs, eg. Nurse, emergency workers
  • camping
  • hunting trips
  • anyone who has a busy life!

Many people fall asleep on a bus or train, nap during the day, or don't have the time (or energy!) to take their contacts out.

Convenience Has Its Drawbacks

While sleeping with contact lenses in is very convenient, it can potentially be harmful to your eyes. You must be wearing contact lenses that are approved for sleeping in. These are called extended wear lenses.
Some examples:

  •  Air Optix Night & Day
  •  Biofinity
  •  Oasys

These lenses are safe for overnight wear, providing you use them as directed.


What are the risks?

Sleeping while wearing contact lenses:

  •  reduces oxygen to the eye
  •  reduces the tear flow under the contact lens

For these reasons, any time you wear contact lenses while sleeping, you increase the risk of infection to your eyes. Also, if you smoke, your risks are further increased.

The following reactions occur more frequently in those who wear extended wear contact lenses, even those that are approved for overnight wear. (Risks a much higher for those that are not approved.)

  •  infiltrative keratitis
  •  conjunctivitis
  •  irritation and discomfort
  •  vision reduction
  •  corneal neovascularization
  •  corneal ulcers

The percentage of people who experience these reactions is fairly small, and the more care you take with your eyes and your contact lenses, the less likely they are to occur.

Are You Interested In Trying Extended Wear Lenses?

If you would like to try extended wear contacts but never have, here are some suggestions:

  • talk to your ECP about them
  • understand the risks
  • if you smoke, it is not recommended due to increased risk
  • be aware that not everyone can wear extended wear contacts
  • try them before you buy them: trials are available!
  • when you try them, make sure you return to your eye care professional for follow up appointments

6 Tips For Healthy Eyes With Extended Wear Lenses

  1. Although some contact lenses a approved for up to 30 days of continuous wear, it is recommended that you remove your contact lenses at least once per week to give your eyes a break. Clean and disinfect your lenses, and sleep without them in.
  2. Be aware of what your eyes look like, feel like, and what your vision is like when they are healthy. If they become more red, irritated or blurry than usual, you should see a health professional.
  3. You still need a backup pair of eyeglasses in case you can't wear your contacts.
  4. Always have a spare pair of contacts available in case you tear or lose one.
  5. Do not swim or use a hot tub with contact lenses in. Even showering can expose your eyes to water, which can cause a rare but sight threatening infection called acanthamoeba keratitis. It is recommended that you remove your contact lenses as well. If you must wear your contacts in the shower, keep your eyes closed to keep water out.
  6. Keep suitable eye drops handy because your eyes may be quite dry in the morning when you wake up. Preferably an actual re-wetting drop for contact lenses as opposed to multipurpose solution; however if you have nothing else, you can use MPS but use it sparingly. (Multipurpose solution is designed for disinfecting, not re-wetting.)


Ordering Extended Wear Contacts Online

You can safely order these lenses online, as long as you have had a fitting specifically for wearing lenses overnight. When you have your follow up appointment, your eye care professional will check the health of your eyes to ensure that they are still healthy after sleeping in them. You may also be expected to return for periodic eye health evaluations.



Return to Contact Lens Types from Extended Wear Lenses


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