Sleeping with contact lenses on could lead to serious eye damage, warn experts

New CDC report claims that leaving lenses overnight raises the risks of eye infection by six to eight times

                            Sleeping with contact lenses on could lead to serious eye damage, warn experts
(Source:Getty Images)

None of us have control over our sleep and it is unimaginable to think about the trouble of waking up and removing your contact lenses when you can sense a deep sleep coming in. However, according to the Centers for Disease (CDC), it is safer to remove your contact lens before going to sleep.

A new study reveals that sleeping with your contact lens can increase your eye infection risk by eight-fold. It is estimated that about 45 million Americans wear lenses, which means, these infections can cause permanent eye damage. About 75% of the people need help seeing. While some think about sticking to the good old glasses, about 11% of people with imperfect eyesight believe that lenses make their life easier. 

Lenses happen to be favorable for many people, especially those who engage in sports or in outdoor activities because they won't break or fall off. However, the eyes are delicate organs and need the proper balance of saline, oxygen as well as good nutrition. Contacts help you strain less and in return see better. But they can also suffocate your eyeballs, especially if you wear them too long.

Without sufficient oxygen, they are vulnerable to all kinds of bacteria that live peacefully on the skin or in the mouth. The conjunctiva, the outermost mucous membrane that covers the eye, normally act like soldiers on duty in order to ensure that these bacterias do not invade our eyes. 

But oxygen deprivation weakens this defense system and allows tiny holes to open in the cornea's surface which then acts as a pathway for these bacteria to get in. This can cause keratitis infections which, if left untreated, can cause permanent corneal damage and vision loss. As of 2010, nearly one million people went to emergency rooms across the US for eye infections. Out of these, only 1,075 of those were related to contacts.

However, the agency's latest report found that falling asleep in them regularly was usually the reason the lenses turned against their wearers. "Among the many behaviors that increase the risk for a contact lens-related corneal infection, sleeping in lenses is one of the riskiest and one of the most commonly reported behaviors among adolescent and adult contact lens wearers," CDC wrote, as reported by Daily Mail

The report further states that about a third of all contact-wearers admitted that they fall asleep or take naps in their contacts occasionally. They looked into six studies to prove why this habit could be damaging in the long run. A teenage girl, 17,  got an infection which turned into an ulcer in her eye after she slept on her sofa with her contacts. Another man, 18, lost some of his vision as he would often sleep with his non-prescription decorative lenses. CDC further warned that even though some contact lenses are approved to wear overnight, it is always better not to.