After a long tiring day, it could be tempting to just go straight to bed and forget about removing your contact lenses. The most annoying thing to do is to get out of your bed and take out your contacts. But, Dr. Patrick Volmer warns everybody to never sleep on your contact lenses.
“I don’t ever recommend sleeping in any brand of SOFT contact lenses. The risks outweigh the benefits every time.”, Dr. Volmer says. “It takes seconds to remove your contacts but a potential lifetime of irreversible damage if you choose to leave them in. People need to see these images and remind themselves/family/friends to also be aware of contact lens misuse.”, he adds.
The Complications of Sleeping With Contact Lenses
Dr. Patrick Volmer, an ophthalmologist in North Carolina shared graphic photos of an eye ulcer caused by a patient sleeping with soft contact lenses to warn everybody. Seeing these photos might change your mind in neglecting proper eye care especially with contact lenses users. The photos have reached over 30 million people in total.
The patient developed pseudomonas bacterial infection in the eyes that lead to an ulcer. This infection is also known as Pseudomonas keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea that is related to contact lenses. This requires immediate medical attention and could lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated. “Despite treatment, the patient is very likely to suffer some loss of vision,” Dr. Volmer explains.
Pseudomonas microbes are found anywhere. It is mostly present in warm, moist environments which are mostly soil, plants, animals, and water. It is a flesh-eating bacteria commonly found in water, swimming pools, and showers. It tends to attack people with weak immune systems but it can also affect healthy individuals under the right circumstances. This is why doctors heavily advise people to remove their contacts before dipping in the water.
A 34-year old man developed this flesh-eating infection after swimming and sleeping on his contacts. Over 1/3 of all the people who wear contact lenses show that they are sleeping or napping in them. These are the people who are 6-8 times more vulnerable to developing an eye infection.
Great Risks of Overnight Wear
The structure of contact lenses makes it more accessible for bacteria to infect the eyes. They trap the bacteria as they lay directly on the eye. When people do not take their contacts out, the germs fester and when people sleep on their contacts, they prevent their eyes from healing.
Although today, some companies have developed new lenses that they claim to be safe for overnight wear. However, even those are still linked with an increased chance for infection when worn overnight. Pseudomonas infection is rare but is a medical emergency that can happen in 1 in every 500 contact lens users.
It is not stated if the patient in the Facebook post of Dr. Vollmer has other underlying health conditions that could have made him more susceptible to the infection. The CDC recommends that contact lens wearers follow safety guidelines to prevent contact-related complications such as not sleeping or swimming in lenses and replacing lenses and storage cases regularly.