The Pros and Cons of Wearing Overnight Contact Lenses

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The Pros and Cons of Wearing Overnight Contact Lenses Optometrist

Overnight contact lenses are a specific type of corrective lens designed to be worn continuously for extended periods, including while you sleep. Unlike traditional contact lenses, which you remove at the end of the day, these lenses are made to be kept in your eyes overnight. They offer the convenience of waking up with clear vision, without the need for glasses or putting in daytime lenses.

Opting for overnight lenses is not a decision to be taken lightly. Various factors such as your eye health, lifestyle, and specific visual needs must be considered, and a comprehensive eye exam is crucial for determining your suitability for this type of lens.

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Types of Overnight Contact Lenses

When it comes to overnight contact lenses, there are primarily two types to consider. Each type serves a specific purpose, and understanding the difference is crucial in making an informed decision.

Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) Lenses

Ortho-K lenses are designed to temporarily reshape the cornea, the front surface of your eye. These lenses are put in before going to bed, and while you sleep, they work their magic. When you wake up and remove the lenses, your vision is temporarily corrected, often to the point where you won't need daytime lenses or glasses.

Ortho-K lenses are particularly popular among individuals with myopia (nearsightedness), but they can also be used to correct mild astigmatism and hyperopia (farsightedness). The effects of Ortho-K lenses usually last for a day or two, requiring you to wear them every night for sustained vision correction.

At Amplify EyeCare, we offer specialized contact lens exams to determine if Ortho-K is the right choice for you. One aspect we consider is the corneal shape and thickness. Ortho-K is generally more suitable for people with a regular corneal shape.

A long-term study from 1997 to 2015 at three optometric centers in Barcelona followed 300 ortho-k lens users, 34% of whom were children aged 7-17. The average treatment duration was just over 3 years, with most using the lenses nightly. The lenses proved to be highly effective, with 96% accuracy in vision correction for adults and 89% for children. Overall, complications were rare and children had fewer issues than adults. Only one serious eye infection was reported, highlighting the relative safety of the treatment.

Extended Wear Lenses

Extended wear lenses are made from silicone hydrogel, a material that allows up to five times more oxygen to pass through to the eye compared to standard soft lenses. This breathability makes it safe to wear these lenses continuously, often up to seven days without removal. However, you'll need to consult with an eye care provider to determine the exact duration that's safe for you.

While these lenses offer the convenience of extended wear, they come with their own set of risks and benefits. For example, extended wear lenses may exacerbate dry eye symptoms or increase the risk of eye infections if not properly cared for.

Making an Informed Choice

When deciding between Ortho-K and extended wear lenses, multiple factors come into play. These include your lifestyle, current eye health, and specific visual requirements. For instance, people with hard-to-fit eyes might find Ortho-K more comfortable, while those who experience dry eyes may prefer the high oxygen permeability of extended wear lenses.

Understanding the types of overnight lenses available is the first step in choosing the right one for your needs. Both options have their merits and downsides, which we will explore further in the upcoming sections.

The Pros of Wearing Overnight Contact Lenses

The Pros of Wearing Overnight Contact Lenses

Choosing overnight contact lenses comes with several advantages that can make them an attractive option for many. Below are some key benefits you should consider.


Perhaps the most significant advantage of overnight lenses is the convenience they offer. For extended wear lenses, you can keep them in for several days at a time, depending on your eye doctor's recommendations. With Ortho-K, you wake up with clear vision and go about your day without needing to wear glasses or daytime contacts. This is especially handy for people who lead active lifestyles or those who find daytime lenses or glasses bothersome.

Vision Correction While You Sleep

Ortho-K lenses correct your vision while you're asleep, offering a unique benefit. You wake up with temporarily corrected vision, which can last throughout the day. For those who work long hours or engage in activities where glasses or daytime lenses are impractical, this can be a game-changer.

Enhanced Comfort

Overnight lenses, especially Ortho-K, can be more comfortable for some wearers compared to standard lenses. Ortho-K lenses are rigid and maintain their shape, which can be beneficial for people with hard-to-fit eyes. Extended wear lenses, made from breathable silicone hydrogel, can help alleviate symptoms of dry eye.

Freedom in Daytime Activities

Wearing overnight lenses means you're free from eyewear during the day. This is particularly beneficial for those involved in sports, outdoor activities, or jobs that make wearing glasses or daytime contacts inconvenient.

A Good Alternative to Surgery

For people who are considering refractive surgery like LASIK but are either not suitable candidates or are hesitant about undergoing a surgical procedure, Ortho-K serves as a good non-surgical alternative.

Lower Risk of Dry Eyes

Some people find that extended wear lenses made from silicone hydrogel cause fewer dry eye symptoms compared to regular soft lenses. This could be due to the higher oxygen permeability of the material, although individual experiences can vary. If you're someone who experiences dry eyes, make sure to have a comprehensive eye exam to evaluate your options.

Suitable for Various Eye Conditions

Overnight lenses can be customized to fit various eye conditions like myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia. This makes them versatile and suitable for a broad range of vision issues.

The Cons of Wearing Overnight Contact Lenses

The Cons of Wearing Overnight Contact Lenses

While overnight lenses offer multiple benefits, it's essential to be aware of the drawbacks and risks involved. Below, we outline some considerations you should keep in mind.

Risk of Eye Infections

One of the most significant downsides of overnight contact lens wear is the increased risk of eye infections. Because the lenses stay in contact with your eyes for an extended period, any trapped dirt or bacteria can lead to infections more easily. Proper lens care and following a comprehensive eye exam can help mitigate this risk.

May Exacerbate Dry Eyes

Though extended wear lenses are generally more breathable, they can sometimes exacerbate dry eye symptoms. The dryness can be uncomfortable and could lead to more serious eye issues if not addressed.

Cost Factor

Overnight lenses can be more expensive upfront compared to daily wear lenses. Ortho-K lenses, in particular, require specialized fitting and follow-up appointments, adding to the overall cost. While the cost may balance out over time, the initial investment can be a barrier for some people.

Not Suitable for Everyone

Certain eye conditions or lifestyles may make overnight lenses an unsuitable option. For example, people with severe dry eyes, specific corneal issues, or those prone to eye infections may be advised against using overnight lenses.

Overnight lenses necessitate more frequent check-ups with your eye care provider to monitor eye health and lens fit. Skipping these could lead to complications, making it crucial to adhere to the routine eye care schedule recommended by your optometrist.

Adaptation Period

Switching to overnight lenses often comes with an adaptation period. Especially in the case of Ortho-K, it may take a few days to a couple of weeks to achieve the desired level of vision correction. During this period, you might experience fluctuating vision quality.

Complexity of Lens Care

Proper lens care is crucial for avoiding complications. Overlooking this aspect can put you at higher risk for eye infections or other eye emergencies. A detailed contact lens care guide can help you understand the dos and don'ts.

Prescription Limits

Ortho-K lenses are generally more effective for mild to moderate myopia. They are less effective for severe vision issues or certain kinds of astigmatism.

Being aware of these cons will allow you to make an informed decision about whether overnight lenses are the right option for you. Discussing your eye condition, lifestyle, and preferences with your optometrist will provide you with a tailored recommendation suited to your needs.

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Caring for Overnight Contact Lenses

Caring for Overnight Contact Lenses

Proper care of overnight contact lenses is crucial for both eye health and the longevity of the lenses themselves. A lapse in lens hygiene can lead to eye infections or other issues. Here are some key points to keep in mind for maintaining your overnight contact lenses.

Proper Cleaning is Essential

Cleanliness can't be stressed enough. Every time you remove your lenses, they should be cleaned using a lens solution recommended by your optometrist. This step removes dirt, bacteria, and protein deposits that build up on the lens surface. If you skip or rush through cleaning, you're risking eye infections that might require eye emergencies treatment.

Disinfection Matters

Simply cleaning the lenses isn't enough; you also have to disinfect them. Disinfecting solutions kill bacteria and other microorganisms on the lens. Always use fresh solution; never "top off" old solution in the lens case, as this can reduce its effectiveness.

Case Care

The lens case itself needs regular cleaning and should be air-dried. Never close the lids on a wet case. Also, remember to replace the lens case every two to three months to avoid bacterial growth.

No Tap Water, Please!

Never rinse your lenses or lens case with tap water. It can contain harmful microorganisms that can lead to severe eye infections or even vision loss.

Adhere to Replacement Schedules

Overnight lenses have a set replacement schedule, which could be monthly or annually depending on the lens type. Always adhere to this schedule and avoid the temptation to stretch the lens's life, as an old lens can deposit more protein and put you at higher risk of complications.

Regular Check-ups

It's essential to have regular check-ups with your eye care provider. These check-ups help ensure that your lenses are still fitting correctly and that they are not causing any damage to your eyes.

When to Remove Them

Even though they are designed for extended wear, if your eyes become red, sensitive to light, or painful, remove the lenses immediately and consult your optometrist. These could be signs of a serious issue that may require immediate attention.

Extra Lenses

Always keep a spare pair of lenses or glasses. In case you lose a lens or feel like your eyes need a break, having a backup can be a lifesaver.

Follow the Contact Lens Care Guide

Adhering to a proper lens care routine is essential for your eye health. Your optometrist can provide you with a comprehensive guide to lens care, which should be followed diligently.

By being diligent in the care of your overnight contact lenses, you can enjoy the benefits they offer while minimizing the risks. Your eye health is priceless, so take the time to care for your lenses properly.

The Pros of Wearing Overnight Contact Lenses
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