Contact lenses are an ideal replacement for eye glasses. Aside from their medical function, you can even use them to achieve a vast variety of different looks. Yet what many forget is that contact lenses are not all fun — they are objects with actual purpose and when used incorrectly, can have serious repercussions on your eyes. There are several ways wearing contact lenses can go wrong, but one of the most harmful — and common — is wearing them for longer than you should.
To better understand the side effects of overwearing your contact lenses, it’s best to look at what they actually are. Think of your contact lens as a kitchen sponge. Like the latter, the former contains very small pores that trap fluids, gases, and other contaminants away from your eyes. Over time, your lenses’ pores become clogged, they harden, and they begin to house bacteria. All of this can result to decreased performance, as well as risk to your eyesight.
For this reason, it is essential that you replace your contact lenses regularly. Even when cleaned, old contacts can pose threats, putting your corneas at risk. While they are safe to use through the day, it’s best to give your eyes enough time to rest. Some contact lenses can be too rigid, others can be too tight. In these instances, your eyes can suffer from lack of oxygen, resulting to problems that can range from simple redness and irritation down to permanent corneal damage.
Here are some of the most common side effects of wearing your contacts for extended periods:
- Eye pain. Wearing your contact lenses overnight or taking a nap with them can cause corneal abrasions or scratches on your cornea. As you can imagine, the condition is painful. This happens because the contact lenses deny the corneas hydration and oxygen.
- Blurred vision. Another offshoot of contact lens overuse is blurred vision. Instead of helping you see better, your contacts can impair your vision if you use it longer than you should. This is caused by damage to your corneas and is often accompanied by sensitivity to bright lights.
- Red eyes. This is one of the clearest indication of damage to the eyes. Factors like crying, irritation, light infections (such as conjunctivitis), and lack of sleep naturally lead to reddish eyes, but the condition is temporary and heals between minutes and days. Red-eyes caused by contact lens overuse indicate a much more severe condition and should not be taken lightly.
- Overgrowth of surrounding blood vessels. When your eyes lack oxygen because of contact lens overuse, the blood vessels surrounding the corneas try to adapt. This causes an overgrowth of blood vessels, which leads to blurred vision or in severe instances, the loss of sight. The condition does not have a symptom and can only be diagnosed by regular visits to an eye doctor.
- Eye ulcers. These open sores appear as white or grayish specks on the cornea. They occur when your eyes get infected because you used your contacts for too long or without cleaning them. They are painful and can cause blurred vision and blindness.
Contact lenses are heaven-sent for people who do not like the idea of wearing very cumbersome glasses and other eyewear. To maximize their benefits and keep their side effects to a minimum, you should see your doctor regularly and make sure to use your lenses properly.