Like many others, I’m occasionally guilty of sleeping or showering with my contact lenses in. Complacency creeps up on us all. Since we don’t immediately go blind or suffer a bout of conjunctivitis the first time I napped wearing lenses, maybe it’s fine to just keep on doing so?
It isn’t, cautions Dr Tarek Younes, Ophthalmology Specialist at Medcare Eye Centre. “Sleeping with contact lenses is forbidden by all doctors as it carries a big risk for the eye.”
Sleeping with contact lenses is forbidden by all doctors as it carries a big risk for the eye.
Dr Pramod Warhekar, Consultant Ophthalmologist at Mediclinic City Hospital, adds, “Infection of the cornea is the most important risk factor for patients who sleep with the contact lenses. In addition, it can cause more dryness of eyes and allergic conjunctivitis due to the deposition of proteins on the contact lens.”
Dr Younes explains, “Due to the dusty, windy, humid and hot climate together with the extensive use of air conditioning, contact lens wearers in the UAE usually suffer from irritation, itching and foreign body sensation.” Dr Warhekar concurs, adding dryness of the eyes and allergy are common in this part of the world.
Wear and tear
In terms of daily, single-use lenses (dailies) versus reusable monthly lenses (monthlies), Dr Younes recommends the former, but warns that users shouldn’t treat them as the latter. “Daily wear lenses are the best option for contact lens wearers but they are not manufactured for repeated use, so be strict to wear them daily. Monthlies are not a quite good option as you have to sterilise them every day with solution that might cause allergy over years.”
Dr Warhekar recommends not wearing any kind of contacts for more than an average eight to ten hours a day, adding that wearers should take a break over the weekend.
Astigmatism is a refractive condition resulting from an irregularly shaped cornea. “There are some contact lenses named Toric lenses that can correct astigmatism but never as accurately as glasses or laser vision correction,” says Dr Younes. “Long-term use of those lenses might cause eye strain and headache.”
Infection of the cornea is the most important risk factor for patients who sleep with the contact lenses. In addition, it can cause more dryness of eyes and allergic conjunctivitis due to the deposition of proteins on the contact lens.
Dr Warhekar is excited by a couple of tech developments in the contacts space. “One is round-the-clock measurement of intraocular pressure in patients with glaucoma.” He also cites lenses that can measure blood glucose levels in diabetics.
Today, however, it’s possible to get your hands on contact lenses that can darken when you enter a brightly lit space. Johnson & Johnson claims that its Acuvue Oasys with Transitions lenses block out 100 per cent of UVB light, 99 per cent of UVA light and blue light.