What Happens When You Wear Contacts Too Long?

A lot of contact lens wearer ask themselves what happens when you wear contact lenses too long and after you read this article you will know. Depending on the person asking “too long” can actually mean the wearer overextended the wear a little bit and wore the monthly contact lens for 31 days instead of 30 or it can mean the wearer has daily contact lenses on for months.

This might sound a little extreme here but trust me. As a master optician I have seen it all. And the typical signs you are wearing it too long are:

  • Cell defects/dead cells on your eyes due to missing oxygen
  • Little red blood vessels showing up in your cornea
  • Cloudiness due to deposits on the contact lens
  • Cloudiness due to a severely limited metabolism of your cornea
  • Higher likelihood hood for severe eye infections

The problem is most people wearing contact lenses do not notice things when something goes wrong. But the A simple check-up every six months can prevent this from happening. Most people will think “a day or a week or a month more for this pair of lenses how bad can this be?” and think they are not the ones with the mentioned problems.

Until they have an extensive checkup. Trust me the things you are about to see in this article are very common and I see them every day in my optical shop. Wearing contact lenses too long is a major issue. Most contact lenses wearers do it. But let us have a closer look at the consequences and how they actually look like under the microscope.

Cell Defects & Dead Cells

Cells defects, as well as dead cells on your eye, are pretty easily detectable with a contrast agent that should be used in every checkup. You simply shine blue light on the eye and with the right filter under the microscope, the optician can see where the contrast agent can enter the cells on your eye. The contrast agent can do this because those cells are dead or defective and therefore the membrane of the cells is open for the contrast agent.

Typical signs a specific contact lens was worn too long are marks that look like the shape of the contact lens or scattered spots on the cornea. Usually the contact lens sits to tight after a while the compression leads to dead cells or the missing oxygen.

But how often do I see a compression so dead cells can be seen under the microscope? Without exaggeration … I see it every day multiple times! For the pictures here I just had to go back to my last appointments and was able to show what happens if you wear contact lenses too long.

The problem in most cases is a tight contact lens does not mean it feels not right. In most cases it feels very good because less movement means less foreign body sensation.

In most cases what happens here is the first layer of cells get damaged and can regenerate after a few hours up to a few weeks. But in some cases the the cells defects accumulate that much so the eye is not able to regenerate the cells properly and infections or cloudiness can be caused. I even saw people losing their cornea because of an contact lens worn too long.

Little Red Blood Vessels Showing up in Your Cornea

Your cornea is completely transparent and should have no blood vessels in it. Unfortunately with the people wearing the contact lenses too long, I see blood vessels all the time in their cornea. Oftentimes people can see this themselves in the mirror by lifting their upper lid up.

This is a clear sign your eyes do not get enough oxygen. In your cornea, little canals are formed that destabilize the structure. Those canals formed by the blood vessels do not go away anymore once they showed up.

The problem here is as long as you restrict the cornea gets less oxygen the blood vessels grow towards the middle of the pupil. The blood vessels growing into the cornea is very common. Also something I see every day but usually, they are located in the outer part of your cornea where the transition happens from white to transparent.

One thing to add here the blood vessels growing into your cornea does not hurt. In most cases people tell me man I can wear those contact lenses for XX amount of months and they just work. But even if you do not wear them for too long when the lenses sit a little too tight red blood vessels will show up after a time.

Cloudiness Due to Deposits on the Contact Lens

Depending on the people wearing lenses the cloudiness accepted can be very different. This cloudiness can be stem from deposits on the contact lenses. With an extend wear the deposits in your tear film have more chances to stick to the surface of the contact lens.

Not only leads the long time wearing the lenses cloudiness due to a change in wetting on the surface but it also hinders the oxygen to get to your cornea. Then of course you will end up again with the blood vessels growing in your cornea. As you can see a lot of this complications come in combination.

Cloudiness Due To a Severely Limited Metabolism of Your Cornea

When you wore contacts for so long you start seeing everything like translucent glass it might not be the contact lens that changed on your eye. It might be your eye itself that changed. In such a case a longer period is needed until your eyes can go back to normal. All of the mentioned complications should be directly communicated to your eye care specialist.

But when you take the lenses off and the haze is still there although you already switched to glasses the influence of limited oxygen flow is now deeper. Now the cells in your eyes can not function anymore temporarily and water accumulates in the cornea. This leads to the haze.

Higher Likelihood Hood for Severe Eye Infections

This is not a common thing but in some cases, a transplant was needed because of an infection. When you have cell defects or dead cells on your eye germs and viruses will have an easier time attacking your eye. First, the eyes get red then they itch and after this, they hurt.

What happens here is an amoeba found the way on your eye and if you do not care about the points I just described it will get in your eye. Blindness can be caused by severe infections. Not only has this to do with wearing the contact lenses too long but the contact lenses do not get cleaned right or they get rinsed with tab water of the container the lenses are sitting in. Those amoebae are found in sweet water.


Wearing contact lenses for too long can lead to serious eye conditions. When you go to your eye care specialist once or two times a year for a check up the likely hood for those conditions to happen is very low. When you did not see an a professional in years and never got the contrast agent applied during an eye exam it is more likely at least some of the conditions might be visible on your eyes.

I wish you a great day.

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