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Overnight Contact Lenses: How Do They Work?

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A young boy holding an overnight contact lens on his fingertip for myopia control.

Overnight contact lenses, or orthokeratology or Ortho-K lenses, are hard contact lenses worn overnight to temporarily reshape the cornea. This allows for clear vision without the need for glasses or contacts during the day.  But how do these lenses actually work?

Overnight contact lenses apply gentle pressure to the cornea, gradually reshaping it to correct vision. The lenses are made of a gas-permeable material that allows oxygen to reach the eye, keeping them healthy and comfortable throughout the night.

The Purpose of Overnight Contact Lenses

The main purpose of overnight contact lenses is to correct refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. These conditions occur when the shape of the cornea or lens in the eye prevents light from focusing properly on the retina, causing blurred vision.

When wearing overnight contact lenses, the gentle pressure temporarily reshapes the cornea to correct these refractive errors. This allows for clear vision without the need for glasses or contacts during the day.

The Process of Overnight Contact Lens Wear

The process of wearing overnight contact lenses is a gradual one. It typically takes several weeks of consistent wear to see significant changes in vision.

To begin, an eye care professional will perform a thorough eye exam to determine if overnight contact lenses are suitable for the individual. They will also take measurements of the cornea to customize the lens shape and fit.

Once fitted with the lenses, the individual wears them overnight as directed by their eye care professional. In the morning, they remove the lenses and enjoy clear vision throughout the day. 

With regular wear, the cornea gradually adapts to the new shape, resulting in improved vision. However, consistent use of these contacts is required to maintain clear vision. 

Benefits of Overnight Contact Lenses

Aside from providing clear vision without the need for corrective eyewear during the day, there are several other benefits to wearing overnight contact lenses.

  • Improved Comfort: Since these lenses are only worn at night, they do not cause discomfort or dryness that can occur from wearing contacts for extended periods.
  • Convenience: Many people find it easier to wear these lenses at night and not have to worry about wearing contacts or glasses throughout the day.
  • Vision Improvement: Compared with traditional daytime contact lenses, overnight contact lenses actually improve your vision so you can see clearly when not wearing lenses. However, this improvement is reversible if you don’t keep up nighttime wear.
  • Cost Savings: In the long run, overnight contact lenses can be more cost-effective as they do not need to be replaced and maintained as frequently as daily contacts.

Risks of Overnight Contact Lenses

While there are many benefits of wearing overnight contact lenses, it’s important to understand the potential risks associated with this type of lens wear. Some risks include:

  •  Infection: Any contact lens wear carries a risk of eye infection, and overnight lenses are no exception. It’s crucial to follow proper hygiene practices and replace the lenses as recommended by your eye care professional.
  • Corneal Abrasion: Since these lenses temporarily reshape the cornea, there is a risk of corneal abrasion or scratching if the lenses are not fitted properly or move out of place during sleep.
  • Dryness: While overnight lenses may be more comfortable for some, others may experience dryness due to the reduction in oxygen flow to the eyes while wearing these lenses at night.

Safety Tips for Wearing Overnight Contact Lenses

To minimize your risk of any complications from wearing overnight contact lenses, here are some important safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Consult with your eye care professional: It’s essential to visit your eye doctor for a thorough examination and fitting before wearing overnight contact lenses.
  • Follow the recommended wear schedule: Each type of lens has its own recommended wear schedule, so follow it closely and replace your lenses as directed.
  • Practice good hygiene: Always wash your hands before handling your lenses and follow proper cleaning and storage protocols recommended by your eye care professional.
  • Monitor any changes in vision or discomfort: If you experience any changes in vision, pain, or discomfort while wearing overnight contact lenses, remove them immediately and contact your eye doctor.

Alternatives to Overnight Contact Lenses

If the risks and maintenance of overnight contact lenses seem too daunting, there are alternative options available:

  • Daily disposable lenses: These single-use contact lenses eliminate the need for cleaning and storing, making them a more convenient option for those who have trouble keeping up with proper hygiene practices.
  • Standard soft contacts: While not specifically designed for overnight wear, some standard soft contact lenses can be safely worn for extended periods, such as up to 7 days.
  • Eyeglasses: If you are hesitant about wearing contact lenses at all, eyeglasses are a safe and reliable option for correcting vision.
A woman at the eye doctor having her eyes examined by an eye doctor to see if she's a candidate for overnight contact lenses.

Explore Contact Lens Options with Golden Vision Optometry

Overnight contact lenses can be a convenient and effective way to correct your vision while you sleep. However, it’s essential to understand the potential risks and follow proper care instructions to prevent complications. 

If you have any concerns or experience discomfort while wearing overnight contact lenses, be sure to consult your eye care professional. They can help determine if this type of lens is the right fit for your vision needs and provide guidance on proper usage. Ultimately, the choice of whether or not to wear overnight contact lenses should be made in consultation with an eye care professional.  

At Golden Vision Optometry, we offer a variety of contact lens options and can help you find the best fit for your lifestyle and vision needs. Our team is dedicated to providing personalized care and helping you achieve optimal eye health. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or learn more about our services.

Written by Golden Vision

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