It is advised not to sleep in colored contact lenses overnight. This is to prevent drying of the eyes and to give your eyes time to relax after contact lens wear. There are more serious consequences of different infections if regularly sleeping in colored contact lenses which is why it’s advised against this from eye doctors and health professionals alike.
What if I accidentally sleep in my lenses overnight?
If you accidentally sleep in your lenses overnight, don’t panic. Simply remove them at the earliest possible opportunity and clean and store them as you would normally.
The lenses may be dry and more stuck to your eyes than usual so eye drops can help loosen them to make them easier to take out. After removing them, your eyes may feel a little dry, so we recommend also using eye drops to hydrate your eyes and to have a break from your lenses for a day or two. If you wear prescription lenses, then opt for glasses for this period. If you wear plano colored lenses, then take a break before putting them back in.
If your eyes still feel uncomfortable after a few days, consult with your eye doctor, and check there has been no damage to your eye.
What if I nap in my colored contacts?
We all love a good nap, and if you have a quick snooze in your lenses then we wouldn’t fret too much. If you wake up and your eyes feel a bit dry, then take them out and clean and store them correctly before re-wearing them the next day.
What happens if I sleep in my colored contacts overnight regularly?
If you sleep in your color contact lenses regularly, there may be some short-term or long-term damage to your eyes. Some of the most common side-effects of regularly sleeping in lenses include:
Dry eyes – colored contact lenses limit the amount of moisture and oxygen that pass through to the eyes. If you don’t have a break every evening for this, then your eyes will feel dryer than if they have their regular break to rehydrate. Eye drops can help with dry eyes, but only to a point, your eyes need time to properly rehydrate.
Lenses stuck to eyes – As eyes dry out, it can make it much harder to remove the lenses when you wake up.
Itchy and red eyes – this can happen as the eyes become irritated and crave hydration.
Keratitis – a more serious bi-product of regularly sleeping in lenses, your cornea could swell. There are 3 different kinds of keratitis: bacterial, acanthamoeba and fungal. Sleeping in colored contact lenses regularly can increase the risk of all of these.
Conjunctivitis – this could happen due to the regular inflammation of the eye
Signs that you might have an eye infection include:
- Blurred vision
- Eye redness
- Eye discharge
- Constant eye pain or discomfort
- Teary eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Itchy eyes
If you’re suffering from any of these symptoms after sleeping in your lenses then you should visit your eye doctor immediately and refrain from wearing contacts again until it has been confirmed safe to do so.
Why does sleeping lenses increase the risk of eye infection?
Your eyes come across all different kinds of bacteria daily. The reason your eyes regularly aren’t affected by these is due to the protection provided by tears. As your blink during the day, you offer fresh oxygen and new tear moisture to the eyes keeping your cornea healthy.
When wearing lenses, you block off some of this fluid and less oxygen can pass to the eyes. This makes it harder for your eyes to protect against bacteria. If you sleep in your lenses, your eyes receive even less tear fluid and oxygen.
If you do this for a long period, the reduced amount of oxygen can affect the cornea’s surface and ability to regenerate cells. This, therefore, increases the risk of infection. Regularly wearing lenses overnight gives bacteria more time to develop an infection, and your eyes have less power to defend against them.
So how long should I wear my colored lenses?
It is generally advised to wear any contact lenses for a maximum of 10-12 hours a day. This will vary based on what kind of colored contacts you wear (yearly, monthly, daily) as well as your eye. If new to lenses, it’s best to build up wear time so your eyes can adapt to them. If your lenses ever become uncomfortable, you should remove them and clean and store them correctly.
Colored contact lenses are a great accessory to change up your look but they should always be treated with care as they are still medical devices and can have serious effects if not used correctly. You should never sleep in your colored contact lenses overnight to allow your eyes time to hydrate and repair, ready for their next wear!