Why you really, really shouldn’t sleep in your contacts

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The CDC is reminding the one in three contact wearers who leave their lenses in overnight that doing so raises your risk of infection dramatically

Effects characteristic of a contact lens-related corneal infection, according to the CDC. DEBORAH S. JACOBS, JIA YIN/CDC

(Amanda Gardner/ Health.com) — If anyone has any doubts about whether or not to sleep–or even nap–in contact lenses, consider this cautionary tale: A man who wore his contact lenses overnight during a two-day hunting trip came home, took a shower, wiped his eyes with a towel, and heard a “pop” followed by searing eye pain. That was the sound of his cornea, the outer layer of his eye, ripping.

It turned out he had a perforated corneal ulcer from a bacterial infection, and he needed a corneal transplant right away to save his vision.

“When you get that bad of an infection, it’s like a boil or abscess in your skin. It will actually burst, and you’ll feel a pop, and then you’ll feel a gush of fluid,” says Thomas Steinemann, MD, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. (…)

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