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Your Kansas City eye doctor has urged you time and time again not to fall asleep without removing your contact lenses. You listened patiently and fully intended to take his advice. However, you were bone-tired one night, completely forgot you were wearing them, and the next morning realized you’d made a terrible mistake. Sound familiar?

Contacts are a savior for many people who engage in active lifestyles or those who simply do not like the look of glasses. While these corrective lenses come with many advantages, they can be detrimental to the health of your eyes if not used properly. Although it may seem harmless to sleep with your contacts in, you should heed your doctor’s warning and use your contact lenses exactly as prescribed.

Did you know that the natural process of blinking with contacts already affects your eyes? With each blink, a tiny micro tear occurs on the surface of the eye. Sleeping with contact lenses only worsens the issue.

Wearing Contact Lenses

Your ophthalmologist isn’t merely being overly cautious; sleeping with contact lenses can actually damage your eyes. Here are some other risks to consider:

Risk of Hypoxia

The corneas of your eyes receive oxygen from the air. When you insert a contact, it limits the supply of oxygen to the cornea. Closing your eyelid for an extended period such as while sleeping further deprives the corneas of oxygen, leading to hypoxia. This condition can result in the formation of new blood vessels on the eyes. With time, these blood vessels can develop into corneal neovascularization, which can permanently impair vision.

Risk of Corneal Ulcers

If you are sleeping with your contact lenses, your chances of developing a corneal infection increase by five. Furthermore, extended use can also cause corneal ulcers, which are open sores that develop on the surface of the cornea. Severe corneal infections may threaten your eyesight. What’s more, a corneal transplant might be required to treat the problem.

Risk of Bacterial Infection

Extended (or improper) use of contact lenses increases your risk of developing an eye infection. These infections can be either minor or severe, potentially causing a long-term reduction in vision. Risk of bacterial infection like bacterial keratitis significantly reduces when contact lens wearers remove contacts nightly and replace them as recommended by an eye care professional. Even lenses that are approved for overnight wear can increase your chances of infection dramatically.

Risk of Vision Loss

Aside from keratitis, sleeping with your contact lenses also makes you more susceptible to parasites like Acanthamoeba as well as fungi and herpes. If these conditions go unnoticed and untreated, they can advance into minor vision loss or total blindness.

The takeaway is simple: Eye infections and other sight-threatening problems are completely preventable. It’s up to you. Of course, your time is precious, but your eyesight is even more valuable. Even a one-time “slip-up” can lead to irreversible damage to your eyes.

Take the extra time to remove your contact lenses nightly as recommended by your Kansas City eye doctor. Clean and store them properly. It’s also important to dispose of them after the specified time-frame — not weeks or months after their recommended usage has elapsed. Following these simple strategies can considerably lower your risk of common eye conditions or possible vision loss.

If you find removing your contact lenses nightly to be a hassle, talk to your eye care professional about getting FDA-approved lenses for overnight wear. For more information about appropriate use of contact lenses, or to schedule a contact lens examination, call our office today.

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