I Almost Went Blind Because I Slept with Contacts in For Years
Sleeping in contacts is not a go idea, right? Obviously, this is common knowledge for anyone with contact lenses and probably everyone else, too. But, for years I didn't think twice about it because after doing it once I felt nothing different when I awoke, Many years later, I'm writing this article as a warning and to share my awful experience.
Two weeks ago I was feeling great, in fact, I had just bragged about feeling "the best I've felt in years!" Then in 48 hours, things began to change when I woke up Sunday morning with a somewhat teary eye. I thought nothing of it, wiped them off, and got out of bed. I showered, collected myself, and was on with my normal Sunday activities. Monday morning is when whatever I felt Sunday was only the beginning.
Monday comes and my eyes had just a smidge of "eye boogs", as my 6-year-old would say. They weren't really too red that morning, but there was a little discomfort. "That's just lack of sleep.", I told myself. Boy, in hindsight I wish that was the case. Tuesday was worse with my eyes looking redder and a coworker jokingly asking me if I was high. Wednesday is when whatever was happening kicked into high gear.
When I went into work on Wednesday my eyes looked horrible and felt the same, it worsened throughout the morning to the point where I really knew something was not right. I knew I needed to leave work as soon as possible and get to an immediate care clinic. They couldn't call it pink eye but did hint at the possibility of an allergic reaction. They gave me a prescription for eye drops, suggested I get over-the-counter allergy medicine, and ibuprofen, take out/throw away the contact lenses I had been wearing, and call them back in a few days if there were no improvements or the condition worsened. By the time I got home, roughly 40 minutes after leaving the clinic, my eyes could not handle any sort of light at all, it was blinding.
Thursday, no changes and it felt like something was scraping my corneas. It was probably the worst pain I've ever felt. From that point, leading to the end of the weekend I was literally only opening my eyes to put in drops and to take pain med and allergy medicine. The next three days I pretty much laid in the dark wondering when things would improve. Late Sunday is when I started seeing flashes of lights and my eyes were throbbing. Then, I had a panic attack right in the middle of my living room. I was literally yelling out loud, "when will this --- get better?" My neighbors must have thought I was crazy. Monday was the catalyst. I woke up with no improvement and immediately called the clinic for what to do next? They immediately referred me to Miller Eye Center in Rockford
I was able to get in the next morning, thank God. After tests, different eye drops, and blinding lights, a change would be on the way. The first doctor I visited flat out told me I was lucky to see anything at all. I admitted I had already had bad vision and also admitted to sleeping in my contact lenses or several nights/weeks in a row. Needless to say, there is significant damage to both of my corneas.
He should have smacked me on the back of the head and called me an idiot but, instead, he was compassionate, prescribed me another eye drop medication, and a follow-up appointment to get a prescription for glasses. He also suggested I put the idea of cont ts to rest for a while. That evening there were already noticeable improvements, by Wednesday I could tolerate looking outside. When I woke up Thursday, I feel 75% better.
I returned to Miller Eye Center on Thursday and left with a prescription for glasses, a much stronger prescription from my last eye appointment. Dr. Gunther, who had handled my exam on Thursday, didn't rule out contacts but not for several weeks. Hopefully, with Dr. G's approval, I'll be back in contacts for work and driving purposes ini just a few short weeks. Yes, this time I will undoubtedly follow instructions when it comes to my eyes and body.
Don't make the mistake I did. Believe me when I tell you it was the scariest week of my life. (Yes, I'm a big baby sometimes but this was serious.) Do not do what I did.
Finally, thank you so much to the staff at Miller Eye Center for everything they did to make my visits as comfortable as quick as possible. Also, kudos to Eyemart Express on S. Perryville Road for getting my horrible prescription taken care of within an hour of my visit. They were the only place in Rockford willing to try to get my lenses made on the same business day.
JB Love is ½ of Q98.5's Lil Zim & JB In The Morning, weekday mornings from 5:00 a.m. to 10 a.m. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.