May 22, 2019

Do you sleep with contacts in? This viral post may change your mind.

Daily Briefing
    Editor's note: This popular story from the Daily Briefing's archives was republished on March 1, 2021.

    If you wear soft contact lenses, chances are you've been tempted to fall asleep without taking them out, but a viral Facebook post from Vita Eye Clinic may cause you to think twice.

    Learn the strategic considerations for optometry program investment

    What happens when you sleep with your contacts in

    While most people know to avoid falling sleep with their contacts in, Patrick Vollmer, the doctor who wrote the Vita Eye Clinic post, said the habit isn't uncommon. In fact, Vollmer noted, every day, he has patients tell him they sleep with their contacts in.

    Those patients' comments sparked Vollmer to share a picture that he hopes will make them think twice about the habit.

    The post, which has been shared roughly 319,000 times, shows an eye with an ulcer caused by the Pseudomonas bacteria. In the picture, the eye is fluorescent green thanks to dye pooling "in areas of corneal compromise, in this case, the ulcer bed," Vollmer explains. 

    According to the post, bacteria from pseudomonas can lead to a variety of eye diseases, including permanent blindness. For this patient, the infection only took 36 hours to form.

    "The bacteria explosively eats away at the patient's cornea in a matter of days leaving a soupy, white necrosis (dead tissue) in its wake," Vollmer wrote in the post. "I was able to start this patient on fortified antibiotic drops around the clock and recently steroids to reduce permanent scarring." However, while the patient's eye has shown signs of improvement, "she will very likely exhibit some form of residual vision loss even after treatment," Vollmer added.

    Doctors say that overnight contacts are not recommended unless the patient has specific "medical or functional needs."

    According to Vollmer, "The risks [of sleeping with contacts in] outweigh the benefits every time. It takes seconds to remove your contacts but a potential lifetime of irreversible damage if you choose to leave them in. People need to see these images and remind themselves/family/friends to also be aware of contact lens misuse" (Asperin, WRIC, 5/3; Koenig, WebMD, 5/8; Vita Eye Clinic post, 4/28; Tribune News Service/Winston-Salem Journal, 5/12).

    Learn more: The strategic considerations for optometry program investment

    As the population ages and the demand for eye care continues to grow, optometry services may offer an opportunity for health systems to achieve several strategic goals. But before investing in an optometry program, systems need to closely evaluate the business case and understand the major success drivers.

    Download this research report to learn about the strategic considerations to weigh prior to optometry program investment.

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