Leaving 30 day silicon hydrogel contacts on overnight
November 17, 2018 1:10 PM   Subscribe

I know you are not my optometrist. Pretty much my question- is it safe ( the manufacturer says 6nights 7 days is ok) my optometrist office says take them out nightly. I really hate looking for my glasses to go pee at night or reading with them before going to sleep. Thanks in advance p.
posted by prk60091 to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is not a question for the internet, it is a question for your doctor.

I wear contacts—one-day disposables. I have been told that it's OK if I occasionally forget to take them out before falling asleep (and indeed that has happened a few times, and the next morning has been kinda annoying but not awful) but that it would be bad for my eyes if I made a habit of it. Your contacts are not the same kind as my contacts so it might be more or less of a problem in your case. The reason is that contact lenses restrict the ability of your eyes to get oxygen, which isn't such a big deal as long as you take them out at night so your eyes can breathe, but which can damage them over time if you wear them 24/7. Contacts that are made to be slept in are specifically designed to be more gas-permeable.

Your specific situation depends—among other things—on the specific model of contacts you wear and on the specific needs of your own, personal, individual, non-replaceable eyeballs. That's why this is a doctor question, not an internet question.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:21 PM on November 17, 2018 [9 favorites]

I had a ... misunderstanding? between my eye doctor (a family friend I had been seeing since childhood) and I when this sort very permeable lenses came out in the late 90s, where I am almost positive he told me I could sleep in these contacts for 30 days at a time and so I did that for ~15 years with zero problems.

I told my new optometrist this when I went for a new prescription after the old guy retired and he was HORRIFIED. He told me that I could sleep in them for a week at a time if I got the contact lense solution that has hydrogen peroxide in it and soak them for more than 6 hours to remove any buildup.

But then I started ordering cheap cute glasses from firmoo.com so now I have 2-3 pairs of glasses by my bedside at all times and this is also good :)
posted by wowenthusiast at 1:46 PM on November 17, 2018

I'm guessing there are differences of opinion among optometrists. For what it's worth, for the 20 years prior to getting LASIK I wore mine for a week straight at a time with no ill effects, but yours may not be the same kind or research is showing more downsides now.
posted by metasarah at 2:01 PM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can’t answer your question about contacts, but when you pee at night, try not wearing your glasses and just sitting on the toilet so you don’t have to aim. You don’t even need to turn on the lights. (Well, that’s what I do, although the bathroom has a night light.)
posted by ShooBoo at 2:04 PM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Everyone's eyes are of course different but i slept in my lenses often, for years, and my eyes are so trashed now that I can barely wear lenses at all. Don't risk your eyes for something as silly as "i don't feel like looking for my glasses".
posted by poffin boffin at 2:12 PM on November 17, 2018 [15 favorites]

Leaving lenses in for prolonged periods can increase your risk of developing corneal infections and corneal ulcers which can lead to blindness or a situation where you can't wear contact lenses ever again.
posted by quince at 2:28 PM on November 17, 2018 [10 favorites]

A friend of mine slept in his contacts for years and had to get some sort of emergency surgery to correct the damage because of it, I'm pretty sure he can't wear contacts anymore.
posted by Carillon at 3:49 PM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

The mister slept with his contacts in when he shouldn’t, to the point where he didn’t even own back up glasses, until he got a corneal ulcer. Spending the next week working from home, wearing an eyepatch, with three different kinds of eye drops, cured him of that habit. I am, of course, not your optometrist.
posted by Ruki at 5:43 PM on November 17, 2018

When I first got contacts as a teenager, my ophthalmologist/optometrist (I don’t remember which) had me sleep in my contacts then come in first thing in the morning to check how my eyes were doing. After the exam, he said that if I slept in them occasionally it would be fine, but not to do it regularly. My eyes are much more prone to dryness than they used to be (I’m now in my 30s), and I no longer find it comfortable to sleep or even nap for more than an hour in my contacts. I very occasionally nap in them accidentally and always regret it!
posted by insectosaurus at 5:47 PM on November 17, 2018

I wore these exact lenses to sleep in, as per manufacturer stipulations, and I developed giant papillary conjunctivitis. In other words, I basically became allergic to the contacts and my eyes won't allow me to wear them anymore, nor anything else made of the same material. I had to wear glasses for 4 months straight, and then I was allowed to wear (expensive!) daily contacts, made of a different material, sparingly (8 hours/day, and not every day). It's not worth it. Just take out the silicon hydrogels at night. Seriously.
posted by ClaireBear at 7:48 PM on November 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

The first optometrist to prescribe me contacts, when asked this question, looked at me dryly over the tops of his own glasses and said doing this *might* not cause problems, but that doing so was kind of the same stupid risk as standing in the street and hoping a car won't hit you. A bit dramatic, but it got the point across.
posted by Crystal Fox at 7:54 PM on November 17, 2018

Like ClaireBear, I dabble in GPC and various annoying eyeball stuff. Dailies were a game changer for me (thank you generous vendor rebate) but I’ve found that even dailies if you sleep in them your eyes may be itchy.
posted by Pax at 9:13 PM on November 17, 2018

When I first got disposible contacts in the 90s the standard wear instructions were wear for 2 weeks leaving in the eyes the whole time then throw out. I have been doing this ever since despite the change in official guidance from optomitrists. No problems.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 10:44 PM on November 17, 2018

Find a pair of reading glasses that are good enough, and keep them by the side of your bed. Eyes are not something to take chances with.
posted by dws at 11:19 PM on November 17, 2018

I'd agree with those who are saying that the apparent paranoia of optometrists on this issue is caused by the fact that they are the people who have to deal with those suffering from the range of potentially nasty problems that can be caused by over-use and mis-use of contact lenses. The most specific risk related to prolonged use - would appear to be corneal odema - a swelling of the corneal cell layer caused by increased water retention. Oxygen starvation to the cornea has been identified as a potential cause of the condition. Corneal odema can interfere with your vision, increase your risk of infections and make you go blind if untreated. It seems that any type of contact lens may cause a little thickening of the corneal cells when first introduced - but if all is working OK then there will only be a little and you will be OK.

Contact lenses have been getting much better in terms of their oxygen transmissibility. Here is a table comparing the oxygen flow rates of different contact lenses. The measurement used us known as the Transmissibility level (abbreviated Dk/t). The earlier soft lenses had a transmission rate of about 8 Dk/t and today's silicon hydrogel lenses (which differ from earlier hyrogels in that their transmissibility levels don't depend on the amount of water in the eye) may have figures as high as 175 Dk/t. Note from the table that the recommended wear duration of the various lenses does not have a clear correlation with their Dk/t and that the thicker your lenses are to meet your prescription - the less permeable they will be.

So how much oxygen does the cornea consume - and at what upper level of permeability can we be sure that a lens would cause people no problems if used at night? That is a much harder question - although there seems to be some research saying cornea will increase its oxygen absorption rate so long as it the permeability of the lens covering it goes up - but that the cornea is also pretty resilient to lower levels of permeability. The problem is that the measurement of "how much oxygen does the cornea need" seems to be done in terms of the percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere adjacent to the cornea - with figures saying that it needs to be somewhere between 10% and 21% concentration to avoid the risk of corneal edema.

I think the take home message is that contact lens use of any kind increases your chances of having acute or chronic eye problems. If the lenses are selected for their high oxygen permeability, worn in moderation, with good hygiene and if your eyes are reasonably robust - then you should be fine and will be able to reap to great benefits of good vision. But don't abuse the balance of wear time versus recovery time - with any lens - on a regular basis. Get some glasses to put by your bed at night.
posted by rongorongo at 1:03 AM on November 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I think to summerize what everyone else had said, that side effects are rare but when they happen they are very bad news.

Your doctor cannot tell if you will be one of those who has problems. Lots of people get away with it, but some people haven't. It's kind of like speeding, most people do but car accidents when they happen are way worse the faster your going. More continual wear, more risk.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:56 AM on November 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

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