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What happens if I fall asleep with my lenses in?

Eliška Malinová

Medically reviewed by Eliška Malinová, Optometrist, on 16 Dec 2020. Written by Leonie Bauer

It is important to take your contact lenses out before going to bed to reduce the likelihood of an eye infection.

According to Australian scientists, people who sleep with contact lenses in are 6 times more likely to develop corneal inflammation.1

To protect yourself from a rude awakening, read this guide!

What happens if I fall asleep with my contact lenses in?

It all depends on how long you sleep. For example, if you regularly fall asleep on the bus on the way home or like napping with contacts for about 15 to 45 minutes, you are not exposing yourself to any long-term health risk. However, your eyes may be cloudy and dry for a short time after you wake up.

If you fall asleep with your contact lenses in and they stay in your eyes all night, this could prove to be much more problematic. In this case, the type of contact lenses you wear plays a decisive role.

Silicone hydrogel lenses allow more oxygen to reach the cornea than hydrogel lenses, so your eyes may not be too affected. However, if you wear hydrogel lenses, you may experience redness, irritation and burning when you wake up. There is even a risk that you will damage your cornea in the process.

Wearing contact lenses while sleeping increases the risk of contact lens-related eye infections by up to six times. (NCBI, 2016-2018)

Also, the condition of your eyes just before you go to sleep matters. If you have only worn your contact lenses for a few hours before going to bed, the risk of eye irritation is less than if you have worn them all day. Contact lenses tend to accumulate contaminants (e.g. dust) when worn for a long time.

In addition, unclean contact lenses are a veritable paradise for microorganisms and allergens. Make sure you protect your eyes from inflammation, otherwise you run the risk of getting conjunctivitis.

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What should I do if I have left my contact lenses in overnight?

As described above, leaving contact lenses in your eye overnight can be harmful. We recommend that you follow these rules if you slept with your contacts in:

  • Do not remove your contact lenses immediately after waking up, even if your eyes feel very uncomfortable.
  • Try to blink a lot so that the lens is moistened and softened by the tear fluid.
  • If you cannot remove your contact lenses, put eye drops in the eye. Alternatively, you can use contact lens solution or distilled water to moisten the eye.
  • When your lenses are soft enough, you can carefully remove them.
  • Try to delay putting in new contact lenses as long as possible. If you have glasses, wear them for that day.
  • If you still feel pain or discomfort in your eyes after a few hours, you should consult an ophthalmologist.
  • Do you often leave your contact lenses in overnight? We'd recommend switching to different lenses that are better adapted to your habits.

Contact lenses you can sleep in

If you are the kind of person who likes to watch a good TV show or read a book in bed and fall asleep, then extended-wear contact lenses are just what you've been dreaming of! As their name suggests, extended-wear contact lenses are designed for continuous wear – even while you are sleeping. They are made of special silicone hydrogel material that supplies your sensitive eyes with sufficient oxygen while you sleep.

Extended-wear contact lenses are available as bi-weekly or monthly contact lenses.. After the official wearing period, please dispose of the lenses.

Not sure which contact lenses you can sleep in? Lenjoy Monthly Day & Night contact lenses are a perfect choice for those who appreciate high quality and great value!

The most important facts at a glance

  1. Can I sleep with contact lenses in?

    You can sleep with contact lenses in if they are extended-wear contact lenses for day and night. These contacts supply your eyes with moisture and oxygen, counteracting dehydration.

  2. How long can I leave my contact lenses in my eyes overnight?

    A short nap of one hour doesn't hurt anyone. However, if you go to bed at night, you should remove your contact lenses.
  3. Who should not sleep with contact lenses?

    If you suffer from sensitive or dry eyes, you should always remove your contact lenses before going to bed (even with extended-wear lenses). If it is particularly important to you that your contact lenses stay in your eyes overnight, we recommend that you seek advice from an ophthalmologist.
  4. What should I do if my lenses are no longer in my eyes when I wake up?

    Contact lenses cannot slip behind the eye, this is anatomically impossible. If you cannot find your contact lens, simply stand in front of a mirror and carefully search the eye for the contact lens. It has probably just slipped a little to the side.
  5. If I have left in my lenses, when is the latest I should take them out?

    Remove your contact lenses as soon as you wake up, alllowing time for the lens to become moist and soften, as described above.

Have you ever fallen asleep with contact lenses in? Feel free to tell us about your experience in the comments!


1: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22521083
2: http://www.aappublications.org/…ntacts081717

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