“The lack of oxygen to the eyes, as a result of sleeping in contact lenses, reduces healing and regeneration of the cells that make up the outer-most part of the cornea,” adds Dr. Adams. “These cells are an important part of the eyes’ defense against infection. If these cells are compromised, bacteria can penetrate and invade the deeper layers of the cornea causing infection.”
Can you at least nap while wearing contacts?
How much damage can an hour nap really do? Apparently, a lot. A nap seems harmless when you’re only shutting your eyes for a short time, but both Dr. Adams and Dr. Tsai still caution against sleeping with your contacts, even in short bursts. Dr. Adams explains that napping deprives the eyes of oxygen as well, which will then result in irritation, redness, and dryness. “Besides, we all know how easily a quick nap can turn into a few hours,” adds Dr. Tsai.
Oops, you accidentally did it anyway… what happens now?
Maybe you accidentally fell asleep after binging Outlander, or maybe you immediately jumped into bed after a night out. Hey, it happens! Whatever the reason is, falling asleep with your contacts in is bound to happen at some point. But even with the risks of doing so, there’s no need to panic.
Dr. Tsai says your eyes might be dry when you first wake up. Before you take the lenses out, she recommends adding some lubricating drops to help loosen them for removal. Dr. Adams adds that you can try blinking a few times to get some tears flowing again to moisten the lenses when taking them out, but using an eye solution is the best option. She says you’ll then want to continue using eye drops (about four to six times) throughout the day to keep your eyes hydrated.
Next, you’ll want to give your eyes a full day of rest so they can recuperate. Dr. Adams recommends wearing glasses instead (if you have them) and Dr. Tsai says to be watchful of potential signs of infection, which include redness, discharge, pain, blurred vision, excessive watering, and light sensitivity.
Can you at least wear contacts in the shower?
We’ve established that just about ever sleepy situations is out. Unfortunately, there are other activities that you can do while awake that are not ideal for lens-wearing, either. You should never shower or wash your face with contacts in, as it can introduce harmful particles and may lead to infection.