Sleeping with Contact Lenses

You like the idea that the worry about your lenses only once a month? If you are already tired of the daily removal, cleaning and disinfecting lenses, you might be interested in extended wear lenses, or lenses that you are allowed to sleep with…

Lenses for extended wear or 30-day lenses are soft contact lenses that are designed to be carried for 30 days continuously, without removal.

Silicone hydrogel contact lenses

Lenses for extended wear first became available in the U.S. in the 80-ies. However, many people who wore their lenses without removing for 30 days started to get eye infections. Within a few years, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has limited the wearing of lenses to a maximum of one week. So, what’s the difference now? In the late 90-ies a new lens material was introduced, silicone-hydrogel. Today’s silicone hydrogel contact lenses supply cornea with significantly greater amount of oxygen, compared with the standard soft contact lenses, and thus make the 30-day wear safer than ever before. Also, the lenses are discarded and replaced once a month, thus preventing long-term accumulation of sediments on the surface of the lens.

It could be argued that this type of contact lens is a kind of alternative to laser eye surgery. Most people do not want to sleep with contact lenses; however for many professions such as, firefighters, nurses and extreme athletes, this option is welcome.

Manufacturers of silicone-hydrogel contact lenses for extended wear guarantee that the wearing of such lenses 30 days without having to remove them is safe, and they have it confirmed by numerous studies. However, many experts are undecided, and don’t agree completely with this claim. Extended wear is associated with increased risk of dangerous infections of the cornea, and it should be noted that buying lenses without professional consultation with an optometrist or ophthalmologist means gambling with healthy eyes. Today, virtually all candidates can wear daily contact lenses, but not everyone can adapt to sleep with contact lenses. People who have previously had problems with contact lenses would most likely be able to be poor candidates for the 30-day wear.