A large part of our eye care practice centers around contact lenses. Quite often, patients will ask me about contacts that they don’t have to take out at night. My recommendation is that removing contact lenses nightly will always be the safest and healthiest way to wear lenses.

In fact, since the FDA approved contact lenses for continuous overnight wear, the rate of complications has actually increased due to more people engaging in this risky behavior.

The cornea is the clear front surface of the eye, and in order to be clear and transparent this tissue must be free of blood vessels.  The cornea is the only part of the human body that doesn’t receive oxygen from blood vessels – instead it stays nourished by ‘breathing’ oxygen from the air.  And when our eyes are closed the amount of oxygen drops by 97 percent.

Anytime you wear contact lenses, you’re affecting how much oxygen the cornea receives.  Our bodies respond by growing new blood vessels onto the cornea, a process called neovascularization.Contact Lenses

These new blood vessels don’t actually help the situation and can actually cause sight-threatening complications, including decreased vision and even blindness.

There’s no way to  get rid of the new blood vessels once they grow. With time, and without contacts, the blood will go away and leave what we call “ghost vessels.”  The vessels will make it easier for blood to return anytime the cornea is deprived of oxygen, which may affect how you wear contacts in the future.

I understand why it’s more convenient in the short term to leave contact lenses in, but you can do long term damage to your eye.  My job as your eye doctor is to make sure your eyes are healthy today and remain healthy tomorrow.