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How long are you wearing contacts lenses for each day?

A good contact lens wearer knows to always wash your hands before handling contact lenses, to always use fresh disinfecting solution and to replace the lenses as directed by your eye doctor. But how long are we wearing our contacts each day?

A healthy eye depends on a steady flow of oxygen to your cornea and when we wear a contact lens we reduce the amount of oxygen which flows through. Hypoxia is a condition which occurs when the cornea does not get enough oxygen and is one of the most common complications of contacts- especially for those who wear them for extended periods of time or forget to remove them when they sleep.

Hypoxia can make the cornea swell which can cause temporary hazy vision. It can also cause neovascularization of the cornea, a condition where abnormal blood vessels grow in the normally clear, translucent cornea. You can reduce the risks of hypoxia reducing how long you’re wearing your contacts, which typically should be no more than 10-12 hours/day, and never be falling asleep in your contacts.

Wearing the wrong type of contact lenses can also cause hypoxia even if you are not wearing them for very long. Standard hydrogel lenses allow significantly less oxygen transmission to your eyes than lenses made from silicone hydrogel. Patients should have a contact lens evaluation at least every year to assess for corneal hypoxia and other problems. If needed your doctor will be able to refit you into lenses that are safer and healthier for your eyes.