2 Things You Should Never Do If You Wear Contacts

To help you be a responsible contact lens wearer, here are two things you should never do if you wear contacts—straight from Dr. Edwin Wallington, OD.

Wearing contact lenses means you need to be responsible with your eyes and lenses because if you don’t, it can damage both your contact lenses and your eyes. We all make mistakes, but if possible, try to avoid these two crucial (and common) bad habits.

#1: Don’t Sleep In Your Contacts

There are many kinds of contacts on the market that are designed to be slept in and increase oxygen transfer when compared to other designs, but the benefits of sleeping in contacts are minimal.

I mean think about it: you’re sleeping—why do you need your contact lenses on while you’re sleeping? The truth is, the risk of sleeping in contact lenses is too great. Too many patients show up to their eye doctor’s office with problems associated with sleeping in their contacts.

And if they don’t have problems when they come in for an eye exam after a night or many nights of sleeping in their contacts, it can change their final prescription. Yes, your doctor will find your exact prescription for those moments that you are sitting in their chair, but that may only be a temporary prescription.

Unfortunately, you may ultimately sabotage your own prescription by sleeping in your contacts the night before your eye exam because it will cause extra fluid to move into your cornea. Plus, by wearing a contact lens at night, you are blocking the transfer of oxygen from the back of your eyelid to your cornea.

Your eye needs oxygen from the blood vessels of the lid to maintain good health. When the cornea doesn’t get enough oxygen, there is a change of pH inside the cornea. Water will chase that pH change to try to balance it and the cornea may ultimately swell. Among other things, a swollen cornea will change your eye’s optics and cause you to end up with the wrong prescription.

In the long run, there are a few exceptional corneas out there that can tolerate the repeated abuse from extended sleep cycles without any sign of a problem, but what if your eye is not one of them? Is it worth the risk?

And if your eye is one of those tough eyes, how long will they be able to endure the constant fight? Is it worth finding out how much extended wear is too much?

Personally, I strongly urge my patients to not sleep in contacts. And if they insist on sleeping in them despite my advice, then I make sure that they understand the increased risks, suggest the best possible methods to proceed, and find the best contact lens for their needs.

#2: Don’t Wait For Your Contacts to Hurt Before You Take Them Out

This one happens all the time. Patients push their contacts for as long as they can to get every penny out of every contact that they have. As an eye doctor, I am begging you: stop. Follow the rules for your sake.

A contact is designed and determined to have a limited life span by its makers and the FDA. If you take care of your contacts by cleaning them for long enough every time you take it out of your eye and every time that you take it out of its case, it should keep its “day-one” comfort.

Contacts are meant to feel good for their entire designated lifespan in your eye. However, for some odd reason, people repeatedly think that they should wear their contacts until they hurt. But you should never intentionally let your eye get to the point of suffering before you call it quits.

I compare wearing a contact lens until it hurts to driving your car toward the edge of the cliff and then slamming on the brakes just before you get to the edge. You may get a little bit more time behind the wheel, but at what risk, and was the extra distance comfortable enough to be considered worth it?  

If that day ever comes that you drive a little too far and go over the edge—meaning you wear your contacts too long, of course—and you end up damaging your eye, you may have to wait months before you can get back into them again…if ever.

If that doesn’t convince you, think of it this way: Remember when you first started wearing contacts? You could feel them, right? But quickly, you became desensitized to them, and you couldn’t even tell that they were in your eyes anymore. Well, that experience happens every day you wear contact lenses.

As you continue to wear a contact lens, the contacts break down a little bit and buildup grows a little bit on the contact lens, and your eye will desensitize a little bit to the extra irritation. And the more that the contact breaks down and the more that the buildup grows, the more and more your eye will desensitize to that added irritation. Until one day, finally, your eye is going to say, “I can’t do it anymore. It’s just too irritating,” and you feel the pain.

Do you really want to push the irritation to the tipping point like that? No. Why would you? So, take care of your eyes and get those contacts out before they hurt.

Okay, thanks for reading. I hope you had fun with it as I did. And please remember, these few paragraphs were designed to entertain you while teaching a couple of important points that may help you out take better care of your eyes and hopefully avoid a few unnecessary problems.

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