Eye Doctor Warns About The Dangers Of Sleeping With Your Contact Lenses

One of the first things you are told when you get contact lenses is that hygiene is very important. You are also told, often repeatedly that you should not sleep without removing your contact lenses first.

Dr. Patrick Vollmer, an ophthalmologist from Vita Eye Clinic in Shelby, North Carolina is now on a mission to drive this point home even further. He posted extreme photos on Facebook of the patient’s cornea after she slept in her contact lenses. It was being eaten away by bacteria.

“I sleep in my contacts all the time and I’ve never had a problem.”As an eye doctor, I literally hear this daily. The…

Posted by Vita Eye Clinic on Sunday, April 28, 2019

Since being posted, it has been shared more than 300,000 times. Interestingly, Vollmer hears about patients sleeping in their contact lenses frequently.

“‘I sleep in my contacts all the time and I’ve never had a problem.'”

“As an eye doctor, I literally hear this daily. The pictures below show a referred case from the local urgent care, a subsequently cultured pseudomonas ulcer, and are the direct result of sleeping in contact lenses. Pseudomonas (bacteria) is an important cause of ocular morbidity and its opportunistic characteristics quickly lead to permanent blindness. This will be the 4th case of cultured pseudomonas that I’ve treated in my clinic.”

“The bacteria explosively eats away at the patients cornea in a matter of days leaving a soupy, white necrosis (dead tissue) in its wake. I was able to start this patient on fortified antibiotic drops around the clock and recently steroids to reduce permanent scarring. While this patient’s eye continues to drastically improve from baseline, she will very likely exhibit some form of residual vision loss even after treatment.”

Vollmer warns people that they should not be wearing their contact lenses while sleeping, regardless of the circumstances.

“To be very clear, I don’t ever recommend sleeping in any brand of SOFT contact lenses. The risks outweigh the benefits every time. 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.”

The doctor followed up the post to explain why the eye is green, he says that it is due to “the fluorescein dye that is instilled in the eye.” That dye collects in the site of the ulcer. 

He also said that this particular case only took 36 hours to develop. “This patient presented to urgent care on Tuesday afternoon and was noted to have a ‘small ulcer,’ Vollmer wrote. “I examined her the following day (photos above) with a massive ulcer and vision that was reduced to light perception only.”

Many people commented on how they had developed infections due to sleeping with their contact lenses in.

“I don’t know about this but i have wore contacts for over 20 years and I used to sleep in mine every night for months,” one user wrote. “I got an infection about 3 years ago. My eyes itched. Couldnt stand for contact to be in. Had to wear old glasses until I could get new ones. It was several months before I could wear contacts again.”

Another added: “I used to sleep in mine all the time, I ended up with an ulcer, fortunately it wasn’t pseudomonas. I had to wake up every hour for 2 days to put drops in my eye, then every 2 hours for 2 days. Now, I won’t even wear my contacts for a 12 hours shift.” 

I’ll be keeping this in mind…

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