What Happens When You Never Take Your Contacts Out?

Many people wear contact lenses for vision correction purposes. However, although contact lenses are simple and effective, and can eliminate the need for glasses, they can also cause problems if not cared for properly. Contact lenses vary in the length of time they should be worn before transitioning to a new pair, but most optometrists recommend that lenses be removed and stored in a cleansing solution every night.

Loss of Oxygen

Contact lenses fit to the cornea of the eye, limiting the amount of oxygen that can get to the cornea. Oxygen is essential for eye health. Removing contacts nightly allows for oxygen to reach the cornea and maintain proper eye health. Limited amounts of oxygen to the cornea can result in more serious consequences such as infection, changes in the shape of the cornea and eyelid, and even blindness.

Bacteria

Contact lenses, soft lenses especially, can absorb bacteria and allergens that can lead to irritation. The limited oxygen supply to the cornea provides an ideal environment for harmful bacteria to take hold and cause problems. Removing contact lenses periodically and caring for them properly -- as well as blinking -- can help remove bacteria from the eye.

Blindness

Wearing contacts for extended periods, especially overnight, can lead to the development of corneal ulcers. This condition, referred to as ulcerative keratitis, can scar the cornea and lead to permanent damage. This condition can develop into long-term and permanent blindness.

Keeping Your Eyes Healthy

Although contacts can lead to unpleasant side effects if they are not cared for properly, it is relatively easy to avoid these problems. Read the patient materials provided by optometrists and ask any questions you may have. Remove contacts periodically, preferably nightly, and store them in a proper cleansing solution. Make sure to adhere to the recommendations for length of wear to the specific type of contacts you wear.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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