Avoid wearing contact lenses while swimming, as it can leave your eyes vulnerable to contamination by harmful bacteria and chemicals present in the water. This can potentially result in eye irritation, infections and sight-threatening conditions such as a corneal ulcer. Moreover, swimming in lenses can alter their shape, causing blurred vision and discomfort.
If you absolutely must wear lenses to swim, opt for daily disposables and combine it with waterproof swimming goggles. Otherwise, prescription goggles are an excellent alternative to correct refractive errors and see clearly underwater.
Why Should I Avoid Wearing Contact Lenses While Swimming?
In order to preserve your eye health, contact lenses require a strict hygiene regimen. Swimming pools, rivers, oceans, and other bodies of water (including tap water) are laden with bacteria, viruses, and microorganisms, many of which can harm your eyes. The soft contact lenses’ porous material easily absorbs chemicals and bacteria, thus increasing the risk of eye irritation and infection.
One of the more harmful organisms often found in water sites is Acanthamoeba. When it comes into contact with your lenses, it sticks to them and can lead to eye infections. This condition, called Acanthamoeba Keratitis, can cause permanent vision loss or require a corneal transplant to recover lost vision if not treated early enough.
Furthermore, because contact lenses absorb the water they come into contact with, their shape changes, resulting in contact lens discomfort as well as blurred and distorted vision.
What if I must wear contact lenses to swim?
If, for whatever reason, you must wear contact lenses to swim, consider wearing daily disposables together with waterproof swimming goggles. In addition to protecting your vision, goggles reduce the risk of your contacts dislodging from your eyes.
Because the water hosts many potentially harmful microorganisms, daily contact lenses will allow you to swim in lenses without needing to somehow sterilize them afterward. Just insert them prior to heading into the water and dispose of them immediately after.
If at any point during your swim you feel any eye discomfort, immediately dispose of the lenses.
For more advice on swimming with your lenses, speak with Dr. Alicia Harrison at Laguna Eyes Optometry, located in Laguna Beach, California .
What are the Alternatives to Wearing Contact Lenses For Swimming?
Custom made prescription swimming goggles are a worthwhile investment for regular swimmers.
Just like glasses, they correct refractive errors, such as myopia (shortsightedness), hyperopia (longsightedness) and presbyopia. Moreover, prescription goggles are sealed so that water doesn’t come into contact with your eyes. This allows you to see clearly underwater without any risk of contamination.
Certain brands offer ready-made prescription swimming goggles. However, prior to making the purchase, we advise that you check the goggles against the prescription your optician provides you, and make sure that they match.
Dr. Alicia Harrison of Laguna Eyes Optometry will be happy to advise you on your best eyewear options for swimming and other activities you enjoy.
What if Water Gets Comes Into Contact With My Lenses?
In the event that water comes into contact with your lenses, make sure to immediately remove, clean and disinfect your contact lenses. This will reduce your risk of eye irritation and other complications.
Contact immediately if you experience prolonged eye irritation or sensitivity to light after wearing your contact lenses in water.
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