Nearly everyone has slept in their contacts at some point or another. In fact, nearly 87% of wearers have done so. Whether it be a forgetful night, or someone wanting the convenience of only inserting and removing them once, there are contact lenses that are FDA approved for sleeping in. These are known as extended wear contact lenses.
To be able to sleep in contact lenses safely, the lens needs a couple of important features. First, the lens needs to be very oxygen permeable. Like all parts of the body, the cornea, the clear part of the eye we see through, needs oxygen. Without enough oxygen, the cornea becomes compromised and makes it easier to get an eye infection. Not everyone knows, but the cornea doesn’t get oxygen from blood vessels. It actually gets oxygen from the air. When we are awake, the eye is open and it has relatively easy access to oxygen even if a contact lens is worn. However, when we sleep, the eye is closed and this acts as an additional barrier. With low oxygen permeable contact lenses, this additional barrier to oxygen is too much to overcome and puts the wearer at risk. Only with high oxygen permeable contact lenses can a patient safely sleep in contact lenses.
The second feature the contact lens needs is to be able to resist deposits of lipids and proteins from the tears. These deposits cause a couple of complications. The first complication is that they can make the contact lens feel uncomfortable. The second complication is that they can produce serious inflammation of the eye. Both of these are what we want to avoid with all contact lens wearers. A person who sleeps in contact lenses is typically more prone to getting these because they don’t take the contact lens out as often. Therefore, a contact lens materials that can repel these deposits is a necessary feature of an
There are several contact lens brands that have both of these important features and are FDA approved for sleeping in. Their names and the maximum number of nights that they can be slept in are listed below:
- Air Optix Night and Day Aqua – 30 nights
- Purevision and Purevision 2 – 30 nights
- Biofinity – 29 nights
- Air Optix Aqua – 6 nights
- Air Optix Hydraglyde – 6 nights
- Oasys – 6 nights
One very important note is that not all contact lens wearers are able to sleep in contact lenses. Therefore, we strongly recommend to discuss if this is right for you with your eye care professional. That way you can safely and successfully sleep in your contact lenses.