Anyone who wears contact lenses will have heard their optician telling them never to sleep in their contact lenses, but sometimes you might feel as though you have no option – such as if you end up having an unplanned night away from home and don’t have a contact lens case or solution to hand.
But one eye expert has warned that this is a terrible idea, and that you should always remove your lenses before going to bed.
Speaking to Refinery29, Laura DiMeglio, OD, an ophthalmology instructor at Johns Hopkins University, explained that wearing lenses overnight can stop your eyes being able to ‘breathe’. Your cornea gets its oxygen from the air and having the extra barrier of a contact lens as well as your eyelid overnight can mean it doesn’t get the oxygen it needs.
This can result in breaks in the surface of your cornea, which let bacteria in and this in turn can cause infections.
So if you don’t have your contact lens case and solution with you, is there anything you can do? Dr DiMeglio says that there’s no substitute for a proper sterile solution. Tap water is certainly not a good alternative.
Irenie Ekkeshis recently told the BBC how she lost the sight in one eye after an infection developed in her cornea. It was caused by a micro-organism common in tap, sea and swimming pool water and although rare, the majority of cases affect those who wear contact lenses.
Ms Ekkeshis was told that her infection could have been caused by handling her contact lenses with wet hands. She has since set up a campaign to warn people about the dangers of exposing their lenses to water.