If you've ever fallen asleep with contacts in, you know the unpleasant feeling that comes when you wake up. Sometimes when you're very tired, you might feel the trade-off it worth it — taking the time to remove them seems like so much bother when all you want to do is sleep. However, sleeping with contacts in can damage your eyes permanently. Here's what you need to know about how this bad habits can affect your eyes.
Your Cornea Needs Oxygen
Your eye is a complex organ, but unlike other parts of your body, it has transparent parts. Your cornea is clear to allow light into the eye, and so instead of getting oxygen from blood, it instead gets oxygen from the air around it. When you wear a contact, the supply of oxygen is reduced, but not so much that your cornea suffers. Breathable contact materials make the exchange of oxygen possible.
Your cornea also gets reduced oxygen when your eyes are closed during sleep, but some gas exchange is still possible. With the combination of a closed eye and a contact, however, oxygen supplies can be lower. When the cornea is oxygen deprived, it will swell. This swelling actually creates spaces between the protective cells on the surface of your eye, and bacteria can enter the eye and infect the cornea and surrounding tissue.
Your Contacts Are Often a Source of Bacteria
Combined with the swelling that allows bacteria into the eye, the contact itself can usually be the source of this infection. Those who do not wash their contacts properly or who do not store them well will essentially make a stew of bacteria that they place over the eye. When the gaps open because of the swelling of the cornea, the bacteria from the "petri dish" contact have free access to the rest of the eye.
Even Short Naps Are Risky
Oxygen deprivation begins immediately after closing your eyes. Even a power nap opens the eye up to dangerous infection. Those who wear contacts and have compromised or unhealthy immune systems could even lose their eyesight if they consistently sleep with contacts in.
Your Eyes Will Become Inflamed
If the possibility of infection was not enough, sleeping with a contact in your eye increase inflammation, which makes your eyes more dry. This is why your eyes feel so uncomfortable when you wake up. However, with consistent napping or sleeping at night with contacts in, you may develop chronically dry eyes because of the damage from constant inflammation.
To learn more, contact an eye care clinic like Southern Colorado Eye Care Associates.