Contact Lenses

What Happens if you Leave Contact Lenses on Overnight

Elsie Goycoolea
By Elsie Goycoolea. Updated: January 16, 2017
What Happens if you Leave Contact Lenses on Overnight

Most eye product manufacturers will specify that it is safe to wear contact lenses for up to 8 hours in a day. If you sleep with the same contact lenses that you have been wearing all day you will easily bypass the amount of time that it is recommended by experts. Forgetting to remove your contact lenses once in a while might not pose a serious health risk but engaging in a habit of leaving your contact lenses on overnight may lead to further eye vision complications.

In this OneHowTo article we explain what happens if you leave contact lenses on overnight.

  1. Inflammation and infections
  2. Blindness
  3. Extended wear contact lenses

Inflammation and infections

During sleep, your body enters a stage of rest, repair and recovery from a day worth of activities and tasks. Your eyes need some rest too so it is important that you remove this external ailment to favor the natural repair mechanisms of the body. When you are asleep you are not producing tears that would help to clean and lubricate the eye meaning that any bacteria stuck to the contact lenses or the eye will most likely cause some harm.

If you have sensitive eyes, you might wake up in the morning with red, swollen and irritated eyes as a result of sleeping with your contact lenses on. A common condition is microbial keratitis, or another name for a corneal ulcer. It is important that you remove your lenses as soon as possible and clean your eyes with some solution or warm water.

if you leave your contact lenses overnight, you may wake up with photo-sensitivity and conjunctivitis. If any of these occur, go to ER immediately.

What Happens if you Leave Contact Lenses on Overnight - Inflammation and infections


Perhaps the most serious health issue that can arise is blindness. Contact lenses impair the oxygen that reaches the cornea. When the eye is deprived of oxygen small blood vessels around the eye may start to swell up. In extreme cases, these blood vessels can grow enough to start obstructing your vision. You might start seeing blurry before suffering from blindness.

Contact lenses don’t necessarily need to cause pain or itching for them to be depriving the eye from oxygen. Additionally, there is no differentiation between contact lens sizes or colors in their ability to restrict oxygen flow.

Extended wear contact lenses

As a result of trying to extend the amount of time recommended for contact lens usage, manufacturers have created special silicon hydrogel contact lenses that purposefully enhance oxygen circulation to the eye. These contact lenses can be worn from 7 days to 30 days without the need to remove them at all. However, not all eyes may be suitable for these lenses, especially, if you have sensitive eyes.

Eye experts still recommend that you remove your contact lenses at least a few times before sleep and give some rest to your eyes by not wearing contact lenses on days that you can opt for glasses instead. Remember that extended wear contact lenses seem to offer a solution for oxygen circulation but not for inflammation or infection concerns, so it is important that you consult your eye doctor for the best solution for your eyes.

What Happens if you Leave Contact Lenses on Overnight - Extended wear contact lenses

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What Happens if you Leave Contact Lenses on Overnight, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

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What Happens if you Leave Contact Lenses on Overnight