Should I avoid swimming with contact lenses? Above all, that’s a question for your doctor. However, avid swimmers who use contact lenses will often jump in anyway. Let’s explore this issue and discuss some practical ways of protecting your eyesight.
Are There Dangers to Swimming with Contact Lenses?
When it comes to swimming with contact lenses, there is a fair amount of medical information available. First of all, the FDA recommends
not exposing lenses to any
kind of water, let alone chorine or salt water
. No matter what, swimming with contact lenses can be quite risky. Below, let’s take a look at how this can hurt your eyes.
Eye Irritation or Infection
As we’ve discussed in past blogs
, water can become an incubator for a number of dangerous microbes and infectious viruses. Whether you’re in a private pool or a community pool
, this hazard is always present. If you open your eyes underwater, these microbes could squeeze behind your lenses and infect you.
One scary creepy-crawler from the water is Acanthamoeba
, which attaches to your contact lens. In bad scenarios, Acanthamoeba can infect and inflame your cornea. It is possible for this to result in permanent eye damage.
Additionally, if you are swimming with contact lenses, the water can cause general irritation. You see, soft lenses are porous, and can allow chemicals and bacteria to press directly up against your eyeball. As you can imagine, this is unpleasant and can cause redness, swelling and pain.
Ignoring Advice and Swimming Anyway
In the end, we always advise contacting a medical profession before swimming with contact lenses. If you’re ignoring the warnings and swimming anyway, here are some ways to attempt to minimize damage:
First and foremost, always put on goggles if you will be swimming with contact lenses. The goggles should fit snuggly onto your head and prevent any excess water from seeping into your eyes. For best results, keep your swimming activities calm. The goal is to avoid getting water splashed into your sensitive eyes. That means keep vigorous splashing and swimming to a minimum. Any water in your eyes can cause irritation or worse.
This also goes for when you shower both before and after swimming. Believe it or not, even tap water can be dangerous for contact lenses. You’ll want to keep your face as dry as possible.
If you’ve been swimming with contact lenses on, be sure to take out your lenses as quickly as possible once you’re home and away from the pool. For anyone using disposable contacts, throw them out. They are not suitable for reuse. Instead, replace them with a fresh set. For permanent lenses, clean them with whatever cleaning solution your doctor recommends. Be sure to give them a thorough cleansing.
Doctors Know Best
In the end, we will once again defer to doctor’s orders. If you notice any redness, swelling or pain, contact a medical professional immediately. They can give you advice based on your specific situation. When it comes to swimming with contact lenses, the best solution is simply to remove the lenses. If you insist on jumping in anyway, try to expose the lens to as little water as possible.