This could happen to anyone.
Sorry contact lens-wearers, this story is pretty much going to be your worst nightmare: A 23-year-old woman in Liverpool ripped out her cornea and almost went permanently blind in one eye after leaving her contacts in for 10 hours — more than two hours past the recommended eight hours.
Meabh McHugh-Hill told the The Liverpool Echo that she was getting ready to watch a movie at home with her boyfriend one night when she realized she still had her contacts in (she also told the newspaper that she'd often leave her contacts in for 12 hours, often removing them for only 15 minutes a day). She went to take them out and discovered that her lenses had essentially glued themselves to her after being left in for so long. In her hurry to remove them, she accidentally pinched her eye and ended up ripping her cornea, the clear top layer that protects your eye from dust, debris, and UV rays. In fact, she told the newspaper that the next day, she was barely able to open her left eye at all.
McHugh-Hill went to the hospital, where she was given antibiotics and told she'd not only ripped off her cornea but also given herself a corneal ulcer. She also spent the subsequent five days in complete darkness while her eyes recovered. Now, she says she'll never be able to wear contacts again and will always have a scar on her pupil.
"My vision is okay now but my eye is still very sensitive," she told the Mirror. "I was so, so lucky. I could have lost my sight. I just didn't realize how dangerous wearing contact lenses could be if your eyes are not moistened."
While McHugh-Hill's story is basically the definition of "nightmarish," it's also fairly easy to prevent by cleaning your contacts regularly, following the recommended time limit, and never, ever sleeping or showering in them. (Click here for 9 mistakes you're making with your contact lenses.)
"Many people try to extend the life of their contacts," Doctor Thomas Steinemann, a professor at Case Western Reserve University, told Shape in a previous interview. "But that's penny-wise and pound-foolish."
Bottom line: Follow the recommended rules, and you'll keep your eyes (and contacts!) in tip-top shape.