Is Sleeping With Contact Lenses OK?

For as long as I can remember, I have had bad eyesight. I have had glasses since the first grade and have been wearing contact lenses since fifth. My contact prescription is a -5.00. This means that I am nearsighted and have difficulty seeing far away objects. I prefer wearing contacts over my glasses. I always found glasses getting in the way of things and could easily fall off my face. Contacts are great in the way that its basically like having normal eyesight, until I have to go to sleep or want to take a nap. I have had a handful of situations where I either have fallen asleep with my contacts in and forgot to take them out or I just didn’t have anywhere to put them. Its a struggle because I would always hear from my mom and from my eye doctor to NEVER sleep with my contacts in. But I have and nothing bad has happened, so I wondered is falling asleep with your contacts actually that bad for you?


The answer is yes. Falling asleep with contacts in is actually very risky. Why are they so risky? What happens when you fall asleep with them in? There has been research done that shows a 10-15% increase in chance of getting an infection for people who sleep with contact lenses in. By not taking your contacts out, your eyes are not getting a chance to breathe. Wearing contact lenses lessens the oxygen supply to your eye and when you close your eyes the amount of oxygen lessens even more. So when you sleep with contacts there is a significant decrease in oxygen supply for your eyes.

Without a sufficient supply of oxygen, the cornea will swell up, causing a small opening between the eye’s surface. This small opening is where bacteria sneak in and cause infections. The eye is constantly exposed, causing less protection to the ocular immune system than the rest of the body’s immune system. The eye is also vulnerable to germs because of its moist mucosal surface.


Don’t give up hope just yet. Although sleeping with contacts in has a high risk of infection, a new   type of contact lenses allows for continuous wear, even while sleeping. These FDA approved contact lenses are called “extended wear lenses.”  Originally released and made available in the 1980s people wore wore contact lenses continuously without changing or cleaning them. This caused many people to develop eye infections. The FDA stepped in and shortened the amount of time recommended to keep contact lenses in. By the late 1990’s a new kind of extended wear lens was released. Made of silicone hydrogel, these extended wear lenses are made to be worn for up to 30 consecutive days during the day and night. The silicone hydrogel allows up to five times more oxygen transmitted through the lens to the cornea. Extended wear lenses are beneficial for people who are extremely active in life, have binocular vision abnormalities or just bad vision in general.

After reading about the risks of sleeping with non-extended wear lenses and learning about the extended wear lenses, I am more cautious about falling asleep wearing my lenses and am looking into investing in the extended wear lenses.


6 thoughts on “Is Sleeping With Contact Lenses OK?

  1. Michael Mandarino

    Interesting topic! I’ve never had to wear glasses or contact lenses so I can’t personally relate to the feeling of waking up and realizing that I slept with my contacts in, but plenty of my friends have, and none of us knew how bad it could actually be to sleep with your contacts in. Here’s an interesting article about which is better to wear in general: contacts or glasses.

  2. sjb6039

    Reading this post made me think about my mom, as she would complain for years about wearing contact lenses and having to worry about taking them out all the time. She got to the point where she could not longer take wearing contacts and decided to get lasik laser eye surgery. The surgery correct her poor vision and she no longer has to wear contacts or glasses. So, for those who have contacts and are becoming so fed up with them, lasik laser eye surgery is always an option to correcting vision.

    This link has more information on lasik laser eye surgery:

  3. Shannon Hughes

    I think you did a really good job explaining why sleeping with contact lenses is bad for you. You thoroughly explained how the lack of oxygen caused by the lenses can lead to infection. I also believe you did a nice job of explaining how the extended wear lenses allow you to sleep with them. Relating this post back to class could have made this blog even better. You could have addressed how it would be unlikely that there be a confounding variable: there is not a z variable causing an infection and causing you to wear your contacts at night. You also could have noted how you came to reject the null hypothesis: that contacts do nothing to your eye.

  4. Kate Billings

    Hey Emma! I can completely relate to this post. I have had glasses since kindergarten and never liked them so I got contacts in fourth grade. I sometimes by accident fall asleep in mine and usually when I do my eyes don’t bother me. I never thought it was harmful but my Mom always tells me it is bad for my eyes. Reading this is helpful because I never realized that keeping contacts in while you sleep is actually really bad for you. I’m definitely going to be more careful about falling asleep in my contacts now. When you talked about how doctors are making contacts that people can sleep in I think thats a good thing for people who like to sleep in their contacts already but I personally don’t think I would want those. I think eyes need a break from contacts. Thanks for teaching me something new!

  5. Sarah Elizabeth Read

    I wear both contacts and glasses, and I would definitely agree with you that contacts are the easier to wear of the two. In high school, there was the rare occasion that I would fall asleep reading or studying with my contacts in. Opening your eyes the next morning and realizing that you left your contacts in is one of the worst feelings. My friends could always tell when I had fallen asleep with contacts in because I’d come to school in glasses the following day because of the irritation in my eyes. And I can completely understand how sleeping with contacts in could lead to infection. I have a friend who also had contacts, and he would sleep with the in without changing them out for weeks on end. Hearing this really made me wonder what harm this forgetfulness could actually lead to. It might be worth it for him to look into the new style of contacts that you mentioned. I suffer from hay fever in the spring and early summer, so contacts are always an issue for me during that time of year. Here’s an article that talks more about wearing contacts if you are part of the 20% that does suffer:

  6. Dana Corinne Pirrotta

    Hey! Throughout this post you explained how sleeping in contacts can negatively affect your eyes really well. I liked that you titled your blog post with a question and thoroughly answered it. I was interested in this blog post because my older brother has also worn contacts since he was younger, and would always fall asleep in them. Everyone told him it was bad for his eyes, but no one talked about oxygen supplies or increased risk of bacterial infection- just the rumor that your contact lens could slip behind your eye! One of my boyfriends would wear contacts, and sleeping in them throughout his entire finals week, he had extreme eye pain. The doctor told him that a particle had become lodged in his contact and had created a corneal ulcer.
    These new extended wear lenses contact sounds like they will be very successful on the market because it really seems like a pain to have to take out your contacts every time you want to sleep. I would be like you, and fall asleep in them.

Leave a Reply