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Can You Sleep With Contact Lenses On?

Fact Checked
Up to date
Update: May 1, 2023
5 min read

Written by

Payal Singh
Content Writer
Illustration Of Can You Sleep With Contact Lenses

While wearing contact lenses can be highly worthwhile to the human eye, it might also pose a threat – if you sleep with contact lenses on. After a struggling day at work or home, running low on energy is natural. This often leads to sleeping with your contact lenses on and endangering the eyes on many levels. Not only is the struggle to draw those dry lenses out of those sleepy eyes real, but redness and irritation are other added eye conditions. 

Let us learn more about the adversities of keeping contact lenses on.

Is It Safe to Sleep With Contact Lenses In?

Can you sleep with contact lenses on? A big NO! Sleeping with contact lenses for a prolonged sleeping time of 7 to 9 hours will directly harm the eyes, causing redness and irritation, and damage to the cornea in the long run. The detriment majorly depends on the number of hours the contact lenses have been on. By sleeping, if you intend a 15 to 30 minutes nap on the bus or metro, it will not do much harm. Your eyes might be slightly cloudy and dry for a while, but no long-term health risk is connected to it. 

The damage done by contact lenses depends on their type. To help you understand better, silicone hydrogel lenses provide more oxygen to the cornea than hydrogel lenses. Another concern is the number of hours you have worn the contact lenses before sliding into the bed. If you have put on contact lenses just a while before sleeping, the irritation would be comparatively lesser. But, if you have been wearing it post waking up, it ought to get worse since it collects dust. 

What Happens If You Sleep With Contact Lens?

What happens if you sleep with your contact lenses on? Is it very detrimental to your eyes? Yes, it can cause any of the following eye conditions. Learn about the following and refrain from sleeping with your contact lenses on. 

Bacterial Keratitis

Finding the name quite confusing? Imagine suffering from it if you keep on wearing your contact lenses while sleeping at night. Bacterial Keratitis is an eye infection based on the cornea primarily resulting from either Staphylococcus aureus or Pseudomonas aeruginosa – both are bacteria located in the human body and the surroundings as well. Possibilities of you experiencing this infection is high if you put on extended-wear contact lenses jeopardising your immune system. 

Acanthamoeba Keratitis

Imagine the presence of an amoeba that is found in common water sources, including tap water, pools, lakes, hot tubs, and rivers. Most of us have regular encounters with either of these water sources. Acanthamoeba Keratitis and microbial eye infection often occur at similar times. Therefore, you welcome risk when rinsing your contact lenses with tap water or swimming. To treat this issue, continuous medicated eye drops are required; otherwise surgery (in the worst-case scenario).

Fungal Keratitis

Fungal Keratitis is quite common in India, and men undergo this eye condition more than women. The risk of contracting this eye condition becomes highly probable when you sleep with your contacts on. Therefore, treating this condition must be a priority as it might make you lose sight of the infected eye. In fact, one of the leading causes of blindness in India is Fungal Keratitis. 

Why Does Sleeping With Contacts Increase Your Risk of an Eye Infection?

Now you understand the need to take out your contact lenses before sleeping, no matter how tired. Attain some knowledge about how sleeping with contact lenses might increase the risk of an eye infection. 

Our corneas regularly encounter different types of bacteria, but infections hardly occur. This is because corneas are meant to shield our eyes from unwanted elements. But, to keep the cornea functioning properly, hydration and oxygen are two obligatory elements.

When awake, you keep blinking to generate moisture in the eyes, and the tears flood in oxygen. But, once you put on the contact lenses, it blocks the eye’s surface, preventing any hydration or moisture from flowing in. 

And, if you sleep for those prolonged hours with your contact lenses on, you are depriving your eyes of the much-needed oxygen and hydration, or a condition called hypoxia. This eventually leads to the inability of the cornea to fight the bacteria efficiently. 

What if You Accidentally Fall Asleep in Contacts One Night?

It might happen that you have accidentally slept off with your contact lenses one night. After waking, you first need to remove the lenses as early as possible without rushing. Don’t force them out in case they are stuck. Instead, put multiple drops of sterile solution, blink, and retry. The ample lubrication might help dislodge it. If you are bothered by any of the symptoms like redness or irritation, rush to the doctor.  

Signs You May Have an Eye Infection 

How to understand that you are undergoing an eye infection? Read the below steps that we have listed. 

  • Blurry vision: Blurry vision is a condition where your eyes shows signs of dryness, eye rubbing, crying, and overall an unclear vision.
  • Eye discharge: Eye discharge is when your eyes produces a mixture of mucus, skin cells, oil, debris 
  • Eye redness: Eye redness is caused by inflamed or irritated blood vessels on the surface of the white part
  • Eye pain or discomfort: Eye pain or discomfort is generally caused by any bacterial infection, eye infection, irritation from environmental causes and so on. Some of the symptoms are dryness, swelling, incorrect eyeglass prescription, 
  • Excessive tearing up: Excessive tearing up or epiphora is a condition where there is an overflow of tears on the face generally without any clear explanation. 
  • Sensitivity to light: Sensitivity to light or photophobia is a condition when your eyes are sensitive to lights and not afraid of it. In this case, the sunlight or any bright indoor light can be uncomfortable to the eyes. 
  • Swelling: Eye swelling is a common condition resulting from infection, allergy, inflammation, or injury. 
  • Itchy or burning eyes: Itchy eyes are often the cause of eye allergies which may be seasonal or year-round. The allergies are generally caused by pollens or danders.  

Eye Care Tips for Lens Wearers

Some eye care tips for keeping your eyes healthy despite wearing contact lenses. 

  • Regularly tidy and disinfect your contact lenses according to the instruction manual
  • Always dump the excess contact lens solution once used
  • Contact lenses should never be exposed to water or your saliva
  • Contact lenses are a must ‘NO’ while swimming, in a hot tub, in a river or lake, on a beach, or ocean
  • Never put your contact lenses in any other container 


Contact lenses significantly alleviate your eyes until you are using them mindfully. But, remember, your eyes are immensely delicate organs, and a trivial mistake might cost you your sight. And, wearing contact lenses throughout the night for a prolonged period is one of the grave causes promoting eye problems.


How long can I leave my contact lenses overnight?

It is recommended that contact lenses should be drawn out before going to sleep as they may affect your cornea leading to serious eye issues.

Is It Safe to Nap While Wearing Contacts?

If you are napping for 15 to 30 minutes while travelling, you can wear them.

What should I do if my lenses are no longer in my eyes when I wake up?

Though chances are very less for contact lenses to get lost in the eyes, they may dry out if you have kept them in for several hours while sleeping. In that case, contacting the doctor is the best decision.


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Written by

Payal Singh
Content Writer
Bachelor's in English Literature and Health Sciences Previously wrote blog articles for various Doctors for their websites Familiarity with various content management systems and SEO best practices

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