What Happens If You Sleep with Contacts?

What Happens If You Sleep with Contacts

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Sleeping with contact lenses in your eyes can have serious consequences. While it might seem harmless, especially if you accidentally fall asleep with them once in a while, the risks to your eye health are significant. Let’s dive deep into what happens when you sleep with contacts and why it’s crucial to avoid this habit.

Why Sleeping with Contacts is Risky

Oxygen Deprivation

Contacts limit the amount of oxygen reaching your corneas. When you sleep, this oxygen supply is further reduced, as your eyes are closed and you aren’t blinking to refresh the tear film. This lack of oxygen can lead to hypoxia, which can damage the corneal cells and increase the risk of infection.

Increased Risk of Infections

Sleeping with contacts increases your risk of developing eye infections by six to eight times. This is because the reduced oxygen and moisture create a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungi.

Types of Infections

Bacterial Keratitis: Caused by bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, this infection can lead to severe pain, redness, and vision loss if not treated promptly with antibiotics.

Fungal Keratitis: More common in tropical areas, this infection can be caused by fungi like Fusarium, Aspergillus, and Candida. It requires antifungal treatment and, in severe cases, might necessitate surgery.

Acanthamoeba Keratitis: This rare but severe infection is often associated with poor contact lens hygiene and can lead to significant vision loss.

Corneal Ulcers

A corneal ulcer is an open sore on the cornea that can result from infections caused by sleeping in contact lenses. If left untreated, corneal ulcers can lead to permanent vision damage.

Risks of Sleeping with Contacts

Condition Description Symptoms Treatment
Bacterial Keratitis Infection caused by bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus Redness, pain, blurry vision, discharge Antibiotic eye drops or oral antibiotics
Fungal Keratitis Infection by fungi such as Fusarium, Aspergillus, Candida Redness, pain, tearing, discharge, sensitivity to light Antifungal eye drops, oral antifungal medication
Acanthamoeba Keratitis Infection by amoeba, often due to poor hygiene Severe pain, redness, tearing, blurry vision Antimicrobial treatment, potentially surgery
Corneal Ulcers Open sores on the cornea, often from untreated infections Severe pain, redness, sensitivity to light, discharge Immediate medical treatment, antibiotics or antifungals

Immediate Actions if You Sleep with Contacts

  1. Remove Contacts Carefully: If your lenses feel stuck, use lubricating eye drops and blink to loosen them.
  2. Rest Your Eyes: Avoid wearing contacts for at least a day. Switch to glasses to give your eyes a break.
  3. Monitor for Symptoms: Look out for signs of infection such as redness, pain, discharge, or blurry vision.
  4. Seek Medical Advice: If you notice any symptoms of infection, consult your eye doctor immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I take a nap with contacts on?

No, it’s not safe to nap with contacts on, even if it’s just for a short period. The risks associated with reduced oxygen and moisture apply even during a nap, potentially leading to discomfort and increased risk of infection.

What should I do if I accidentally sleep with my contacts in?

Remove them as soon as possible, use lubricating drops if necessary, and give your eyes a break by wearing glasses. Watch for any symptoms of infection and consult your eye doctor if you notice anything unusual.

Are there any types of contacts safe to sleep in?

While some contacts are FDA-approved for overnight wear, the risk of infection still exists. It’s best to follow your eye doctor’s advice and avoid making it a regular habit.

How can I prevent infections if I wear contacts?

  • Always wash your hands before handling lenses.
  • Use fresh contact lens solution daily.
  • Replace your lenses as recommended.
  • Avoid swimming or showering with contacts in.
  • Don’t sleep with your contacts in.


Sleeping with contacts is a risky behavior that can lead to serious eye health issues. From infections to corneal damage, the potential consequences are severe. Always remove your contacts before going to bed to ensure your eyes remain healthy.

For more information on eye care and to address any concerns, visit Liberty Laser Eye Center. If you have questions about specific conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or need advice on LASIK consultations, our experts are here to help. Contact us today to ensure your vision remains clear and healthy.

Liberty Laser Eye Center
8321 Old Courthouse Road
Vienna, VA 22182

(571) 234-5678

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