Can I Sleep in My Contact Lenses?

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If you wear contact lenses, you may have had the experience of accidentally falling asleep at night without removing them first and wondered whether it’s a big deal that you didn’t remove them. Maybe you’ve taken a nap during the day without removing your contact lenses. Is it that bad you didn’t remove your contact lenses? Can you sleep in your contact lenses?

The short answer to this question is no. You should not sleep in your contact lenses.

Some people do receive a prescription for extended wear contact lenses which allows them to sleep in them, and others receive a prescription for special contact lenses meant to be worn at night while sleeping to reshape their corneas. If this is the case for you and your doctor has specifically instructed you to wear your contact lenses while sleeping, then it is safe to do so; otherwise, you should always remove your contact lenses before going to sleep.

It is important for your eye health and vision to carefully follow your eye doctor’s instructions on how to care for your contact lenses, when to replace your contact lenses, and whether you should sleep in them.

Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Sleep in Contact Lenses

Dryness and Irritation

If you fall asleep with your contact lenses in your eyes, you may wake up and feel that the lenses are “stuck” to your eyes.

The front surface of your eyes, your corneas, need hydration and oxygen to stay healthy. Contact lenses sit on the surface of your eyes. Even though they can feel comfortable and properly hydrated during the day, you are restricting the flow of oxygen and moisture to your eyes when you sleep in your contacts. As a result, you will experience dryness and irritation when you sleep in your contacts.


Sleeping in your contact lenses can lead to eye infections, including the following:

  • Inflammation of the lining of your eyes, leading to itchiness and redness.
  • Contact Lens Acute Red Eye (CLARE) – an infection that causes redness and sensitivity to light.
  • Corneal neovascularization – an overgrowth of new blood vessels in your cornea which triggers swelling, this condition can permanently damage the surface of your eyes and may lead to the inability to continue wearing contact lenses at all.

Corneal Abrasions and Corneal Ulcers

  • Corneal abrasions are scratches on the cornea and cause sensitivity to light, redness, tearing, and pain.
  • A corneal ulcer is a very painful open sore on the front surface of your eye which causes inflammation, blurry vision, pus or eye discharge, sensitivity to light, and the feeling like there’s something stuck in your eye. Corneal ulcers take time to heal and during this time, you won’t be able to wear contact lenses at all. It is a severe condition and very painful.

If you wear contact lenses and accidentally fall asleep in them, you need to remove the contact lenses and give your eyes a break by switching to eyeglasses.

Everyone who primarily wears contact lenses for vision correction needs at least one pair of “back-up” eyeglasses in case you have an eye infection, have been sick, or accidentally fall asleep in your contacts.

Contact lenses have so many benefits for people who need vision correction but following your doctor’s instructions on the wear and care schedule is key to continued success in wearing them. And remember, don’t go to sleep in your contact lenses!

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