Wearing Contacts Responsibly So You Can Keep Wearing Them
Many people love contacts lenses for better peripheral vision, natural appearance, and comfortable vision without the weight of glasses. Some people also feel like they can see better. With all these wonderful advantages, it’s tempting to just leave the contacts in from the moment you wake up, until bed time. But it’s important to refrain from that temptation because over-wearing your contacts can have serious consequences!
What can happen if you wear lenses for too long?
1. You can develop bumps underneath the eyelids which we may diagnose as Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis or (GPC). This can happen for a variety of reasons, but one common cause is an inflammatory reaction due to overwearing of the contacts. Patients with this condition can complain of redness, irritation, itchiness, erratic lens movement and blurry vision. Treatment of this includes discontinuing contacts, decreasing contact wear time, changing lens modality, lens solution, or prescribing steroid drops.
2. Not enough oxygen will get into your eye. Official term - corneal hypoxia. While the newer contact lens products are more oxygen permeable than ones in the past - the eye still needs a break with “no lens in the eye” during waking hours. When the eye doesn’t get enough oxygen , the cornea can swell and abnormal blood vessels can form. Corneal swelling can blur vision, and the neovascularization, if allowed to progress can permanently impair vision. Lack of oxygen can also cause little breaks in the corneal epithelium (a protective layer over the cornea). As a a result of this, the eyes may end up getting red, or dry and irritated. But what is more concerning is that these little breaks or cracks on the corneal epithelium increases the opportunities for bacteria to get through and cause an infection.
While we can try to manage symptoms of overwear, it would be better not to get these symptoms to begin with . You can do that by replacing your contact lenses according to the wear schedule recommended by the lens manufacturers and giving your eyes a break from contact lenses by taking the lenses out earlier in the day and wearing glasses a few days out of the week. This small changes will keep your eyes healthier in the long run!