Can I Sleep in My Contact Lenses?

Aug 22, 2022 | Contacts

If you wear contact lenses, you may have fallen asleep at night or for a quick nap without removing your contact lenses first, and now you’re wondering if it’s a big deal to sleep in your contact lenses. Is it that bad you didn’t remove your contact lenses? Can you sleep in your contact lenses?

Our answer to this question is no. You should not sleep in your contact lenses.

While some people do receive a prescription for extended wear contact lenses which allows them to sleep in them, and others receive a prescription for special contact lenses meant to be worn at night while sleeping to reshape their corneas, the doctor will provide specific instruction and counsel that they wear their contact lenses while sleeping. If you doctor has not prescribed contact lenses to you with the specific instruction to sleep with them in, then you should always remove your contact lenses before going to sleep.

It is vital for your eye health, vision, and continued success in wearing contact lenses to carefully follow your eye doctor’s instructions. We will share a few reasons why it’s important not to sleep in your contact lenses.

Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Sleep in Contact Lenses

Dryness and Irritation

When you fall asleep with your contact lenses in your eyes, you may wake up and feel that the lenses are “stuck” to your eyes.  The front surface of your eyes, your corneas, need hydration and oxygen to stay healthy. Contact lenses sit on the surface of your eyes, and even though they can feel comfortable and properly hydrated during the day, when you sleep in your contacts, you are restricting the flow of oxygen and moisture to your eyes. You will experience dryness and irritation when you sleep in your contact lenses as a result.


Your eye doctor will know if you have made it a habit to wear your contact lenses while sleeping. Sleeping in your contact lenses can lead to eye infections, including the following:

  • Inflammation of the lining of your eyes leading to itchiness and redness.
  • Contact Lens Acute Red Eye (CLARE) – an infection which causes redness and sensitivity to light.
  • Corneal neovascularization – an overgrowth of new blood vessels in your cornea which triggers swelling, this condition can permanently damage the surface of your eyes and may lead to the inability to continue wearing contact lenses at all.

Corneal Abrasions and Corneal Ulcers

  • Corneal abrasions are scratches on the cornea and cause sensitivity to light, redness, tearing, and pain.
  • A corneal ulcer is a very painful open sore on the front surface of your eye. Corneal ulcers cause inflammation, blurry vision, pus or eye discharge, sensitivity to light, and can make you feel like there’s something stuck in your eye. Corneal ulcers take time to heal and during this time, you won’t be able to wear contact lenses at all. It is a severe condition and very painful.

If you wear contact lenses and accidentally fall asleep in them, you need to remove the contact lenses and give your eyes a break by switching to eyeglasses.  Everyone who primarily wears contact lenses for vision correction needs at least one pair of “back-up” eyeglasses in case you have an eye infection, have been sick, or accidentally fall asleep in your contacts.

Contact Lens Exams in Gwinnett County

Contact lenses offer many benefits for people who need vision correction but the key to success in wearing contacts is to carefully follow your doctor’s instructions on the wear and care schedule. Dr. Kazem at Lawrenceville Family Eyecare has specific expertise in contact lenses and is an excellent choice for people looking for a contact lens expert in the greater Atlanta metro. Contact our office to schedule an appointment with Lawrenceville Family Eyecare today!