This Is Why You Should Never Go to Sleep With Contact Lenses—North Carolina Doctor's Photos of Damaged Eyes Go Viral

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An eye doctor has shared a gruesome photo showing the eye of a patient who developed a potentially blinding ulcer, to warn those who see it against sleeping in soft contact lenses.

On Facebook, Dr. Patrick Vollmer of the Vita Eye Clinic, North Carolina, shared the image of a red, gunk-filled, eye that had become infected over the course of around 36 hours.

The patient, who could only see light with her affected eye, visited the emergency room, where doctors discovered she had an ulcer caused by the Pseudomonas bacteria.

Vollmer described the bacteria as "opportunistic," and warned it can quickly lead to permanent blindness if left untreated.

"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," he said.

To treat the ulcer, the doctor prescribed the patient antibiotic drops that had to be administered around the clock, as well as steroids in a bid to reduce permanent scarring.

The patient's eye improved, but it's likely she will always have trouble seeing.

Vollmer also hit back against Facebook users who claimed it is safe to sleep in soft contact lenses. "The amount of Google Degrees and histrionic remarks on social media never lets you down! Personally, I will continue to adhere to evidence-based medicine studies when treating all of my patients for the best possible outcomes," he wrote.

"Yes, this post is a 'scare tactic'... to get you to stop sleeping in soft contacts," Vollmer stated beneath the post which was shared almost 300,000 times.

In some cases, opticians will prescribe extended wear contact lenses to patients, which are designed to allow oxygen to reach the cornea. But these are different from the soft contact lenses most people use.

Sleeping in soft contact lenses is not recommended, the doctor stressed: "The risks 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."

According to The American Academy of Ophthalmology, sleeping in contact lenses sees a six to eightfold risk increase for developing a nasty infection.

Despite the risks, one in three users sleeps in their lenses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.