Can You Swim with Contact Lenses?

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Summer weather was built for many things, but swimming with your contact lenses in is not one of them. In fact, you shouldn’t expose your contacts to water at all. That includes swimming, water sports, and even showering or using a hot tub. So, if you plan on jumping into a pool, lake, or an ocean this season, remember to swap out your contacts for a pair of prescription sunglasses. But, why shouldn’t you swim with contact lenses, again? Here’s a quick rundown.

Don’t Risk the Infection

swim with contact lenses featureWhen exposing your contact lenses to water, you are actually increasing the risk of infection from naturally-occurring bacteria living in the water. Although this bacteria is generally harmless, it’s possible for germs to attach to your lenses and remain on the eye’s surface. In short, this can lead to serious eye conditions and infections with symptoms including redness, swelling, pain, light sensitivity and watering of the eye.

With chlorine pools, in particular, getting water in your eye is equivalent to having diluted bleach splashed in there. And, when chlorine enters the eyes, it actually increases the chances for bacteria to follow. This is because chlorine degrades the “tear film”, which is responsible for moisturizing the eyes. So, when that protective layer is obstructed, bacteria has a higher chance of making its way to the cornea. Not to mention, contacts are the perfect place for bacteria to adhere to since they’re moist and sticky on the surface. So, while it may seem inconvenient to remove your contact lenses before swimming, it’s essential for protecting your vision in the long run.

Tips for Removing Contacts Before Swimming

Before you take a dive in the pool or make contact with the waves this summer, follow these simple steps for keeping your eyes healthy:

  1. Wash your hands with antibacterial soap and water before handling your lenses.
  2. Never use tap water to rinse your contact lenses or contact lens case. If you do not wear daily disposable lenses, always use your disinfecting solution to clean them.
  3. Remember to routinely change and clean your contact case.
  4. Always store your lenses in a fresh solution if wearing reusable contact lenses.

If You Must Swim With Contact Lenses, Read This

While we don’t recommend it if you ultimately decide to swim with your contact lenses in, make sure they’re the daily type. Or, just make sure you are using a pair that you don’t mind throwing away. Also, avoid reusing the contacts that you wore in the swimming pool, as your contact solution is not strong enough to kill all of the bacteria. The last thing you want to do is re-expose harmful pool bacteria to your eye the next day.

Visit Looking Glass Optical to learn more about how swimming with contacts can affect your vision. We’re your top destination for general eye-care assistance, eyewear and contact lenses. Schedule an appointment with us online today.

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