The study reported that sleeping in your lenses can be lead to dangerous consequences for your health and can even cause irreversible eye damage.
Improper care or wear, like going to sleep without removing your lenses, can lead to infections of the cornea like microbial keratitis, which can lead to serious health problems.
Six tales that should serve as warnings are the latest in a series on infections featured in the January issue of Annals of Emergency Medicine and developed through a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the EMERGEncy ID Net, an emergency department-based collaborative surveillance network.
The CDC reports that an estimated 1 million annual outpatient and emergency visits were due to keratitis.
“Sleeping in your contact lenses is risky and can lead to infections, or in some cases, permanent damage,” said Jon Femling, MD, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of New Mexico School of Medicine and lead author.
“Falling asleep, or even napping, without removing your contact lenses can significantly increase the likelihood of serious health problems.”
The Annals of Emergency Medicine commentary is based on a CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report titled, Corneal Infections Associated with Sleeping in Contact Lenses – Six Cases, United States, 2016-2018. The original authors are Jennifer R. Cope, MD, Nuadum Muriel Konne, MPH, Deborah S. Jacobs, MD, Deepinder K. Dhaliwal, MD, Michelle K. Rhee, MD, Jia Yin, MD, Ph.D., Thomas L. Steinemann, MD.
In one case, a man evaluated for eye redness and blurry vision reported sleeping in contact lenses 3-4 nights per week and swimming with them. He was treated for bacterial and fungal microbial keratitis.
Another instance outlines an adolescent girl who slept in lenses purchased without a prescription at a chain drug store. She developed a corneal ulcer that resulted in scarring.
A man who wore the same lenses for two weeks was diagnosed with a perforated cornea, bacterial infection and ultimately required a transplant to save his right eye.
“Sleeping in lenses is one of the riskiest and most commonly reported behaviours for adolescent and adult contact lens wearers,” said Dr Femling.
“If you want to avoid infection, and avoid a trip to the emergency department, proper eye care is a must.”
While closer to home, Siddhi, a 26-year-old Mumbai resident had forgotten to take out her lenses for several nights in a row. As a result of this, the next morning she used to experience irritability and itching in her eyes.
Due to this began to face eye problem due to continuous use of contact lenses.
While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Siddhi said, “I have been using contact lenses since the past ten years. I used to forget to take out my lenses before going to sleep, due to this I began experiencing eye problems, my eye used to water continuously. After this I realised the importance of removing my contact lenses before going to bed.”
While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Dr Pravin Patil, a retina surgeon from Latur’s Shri Venkatesh Eye Institute, stated, “If you forget to take out your contact lenses each night, there is a risk of losing your eyesight in the long-run. The eyes receive limited supply of oxygen if we wear contact lenses while sleeping. Also, there are higher chances of having an infection due to prolonged use of contact lenses. To prevent this from happening, remember to remove your contact lenses before sleeping.”