When a contact-lens wearer stays awake studying for 18-20 hours or more with their contacts in, it’s almost the equivalent of sleeping with contacts in, something that Eye M.D.s warn against. Prolonged wearing of your contact lenses is a problem for people who wear regular hydrogen lenses, since traditional hydrogels are relatively less permeable to oxygen than newer alternatives like silicone hydrogels. The eye needs oxygen to keep it healthy. Without regular exposure to oxygen, the eye’s cornea can become inflamed and the vision blurry.  Prolonged contact lens use can even lead to infections or corneal ulcers that in the worst case can permanently damage vision.

Sometimes students fall asleep without knowing it (with their contacts in), while studying. Remedy: Alternate wearing contact lenses with use of eyeglasses during long study periods.  Also, students with irregular sleep patterns can wear contact lenses made of silicon hydrogen, a new material with improved oxygen permeability, which may reduce risk of infection and discomfort.

This article reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® program (www.geteyesmart.org).

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