Will I Go Blind If I Sleep in My Contacts Too Often?

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You should NOT fall asleep with your contacts in. You know it. Your doctor knows it. And the tiny type on the packaging of your contacts knows it. But alas, you’re human, and nodding off in front of the TV before taking your contacts out is gonna happen from time to time.

Besides, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

Well, the American Academy of Ophthalmology told us wearing contacts overnight increases the risk of eye infection by 6.5 times. Worse yet, those particular infections can cause scarring on the cornea, serious vision loss and even blindness.

How exactly? Well, as ophthalmologist Rebecca Taylor explained to Huffington Post, the cornea receives its oxygen from the air, which means when you put your contacts on, you’re essentially blocking part of the cornea’s oxygen supply. You also reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your cornea when you close your eyes to go to sleep. Combine the two, and they cause the cornea to swell up, stretching the eye’s surface and allowing dangerous bacteria to make its way in.

The result is no joke. Just ask 40-year-old Chad Groeschen, who was left blind in one eye after sleeping with his extended-wear contacts—special contacts that are supposed to be FDA-approved for overnight wear—resulted in a severe bacterial infection.

Point is, to keep your corneas from blowing up like balloons and opening the bacterial floodgates, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends following their proper contact lens care guidelinesi.e., clean them everyday, don’t shower, swim and get in a hot tub with them on, replace the lens case every three months and, of course, remove them every night before hitting the hay.

Stick to those rules, and you’ll be able to see the TV before falling asleep in front of it.