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Is It Bad to Sleep in Your Contacts?

About one-third of contact lens wearers sleep with their contacts in. But there are some very good reasons you should never sleep while wearing your contacts.

Even if you have contacts that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for extended wear, you should remove them while you sleep at least a few nights each week.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published a report detailing the danger of infection associated with sleeping in contact lenses. It describes several instances in which people developed corneal infections that required corneal transplants or caused permanent vision loss.

Here are a few of the risks you face when you sleep wearing contacts.

Poor fit

When you sleep in contacts, you can develop a condition called giant papillary conjunctivitis, or GPC, as a result of irritation to your eyelids. One of the symptoms of GPC is bumps under your eyelids. Those bumps can pull on your lenses, and cause them to fit poorly.


Contact lens acute red eye, or CLARE, is a condition caused by over-wearing contact lenses. CLARE causes light sensitivity, pain, and your eyes take on an overall reddish tinge.

Erupting cornea

The CDC report describes a man who wore his contacts on a two-night hunting trip. The next morning, he returned home because he had eye pain. He used over-the-counter medication, then was prescribed eye drops to treat a corneal abrasion.

Later, he took a shower, and when he wiped the towel across his eyes, he heard a popping sound. He had a perforated corneal ulcer—his cornea had ruptured. He received an urgent corneal transplant.

Eye infection

The most common result of wearing contacts for too long is conjunctivitis, a bacterial infection that requires treatment with antibiotics.

Good contact lens habits

The first habit to establish is removing your lenses daily. The second is cleaning them thoroughly.

When you close your eyes to sleep, your eyes aren’t bathed in oxygen-rich air. Adding a layer of plastic contact lens further starves your eyes for oxygen.

During the day, your contacts collect all sorts of miniscule dirt and debris. If you don’t remove them and clean them, your eyes are then exposed to that dirt and debris.

Other good habits you should cultivate include:

If you have any contact lens-related questions, or it’s time for your annual exam, book an appointment online or by phone at Cooper Eye Care today. Our staff is happy to answer your questions, and help you keep your eyes as healthy as possible.

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