If you swim with contact lenses you may wonder whether or not your contacts will fall out if you open your eyes underwater. Not only will you risk losing them, but most of all you will risk an eye infection. In this article, we discuss the dangers of swimming with contacts in, what to do if you choose to wear them while swimming, and the best goggles for contact lens wearers.
“Can you swim with contacts?” You really shouldn’t and here’s why…
Dangers of Swimming with Contact Lenses
It is likely that your contact lenses will fall out if you open your eyes underwater. They might stay in place if you only open them for a moment but we highly discourage you from swimming with contacts.
Swimming with contacts puts you at risk of developing an eye infection when bacteria from the pool or lake gets stuck under your contact lens.
The bacteria that gets stuck under contact lenses can cause a condition calledAcanthamoeba Keratitis, which is characterized by:
- red eye
- eye pain
- light sensitivity
- blurred vision
If you experience these symptoms, please visit your optometrist or eye doctor as soon as possible.
Best Practices for Swimming with Contacts
If you choose to wear contacts in the water be sure to follow these best practices to prevent eye infections.
1. Wear Waterproof Goggles
Wearing waterproof goggles while swimming with contact lenses will help prevent eye infections caused by bacteria from the water getting stuck under your contacts. Choosing the right goggles can make the difference between a relaxing swim and an uncomfortable experience, check out this article for tips on choosing the best non-prescription goggles for you.
If you are a serious swimmer that wants to forgo wearing contact lenses, you can purchase prescription swim goggles. There are a number of prescription swim goggle brands that cater to the needs of both recreational and sports swimmers. Not only will you protect your eyes and your contact lenses from germs and bacteria by wearing prescription goggles, you will also protect them from chemicals like chlorine and bromine used to treat pools and chemically resistant bacteria that may be lurking in the water. Some prescription goggle brands to look into are:
2. Rinse With Contact Solution
Make sure to rinse with contact lens solution before and after your swim session to remove any bacteria. A multipurpose contact lens solution rinses, cleans, disinfects, neutralizes and removes protein buildup from contact lenses without scratching the lenses. Storing contact lenses in the solution keeps lenses hydrated and sterile.
There is a difference between a saline solution and contact lens solution. Do not use saline solution unless your eye doctor has recommended it as part of your lens-cleaning process. Saline solution does not contain a cleaning agent. If your eye doctor does recommend adding saline be sure to buy a commercial preparation that has been approved for contact lens use.
3. Replace Contacts ASAP
Completely replace your contact lenses as soon as possible! Risk of infection is increased in water because there are lots of germs – a particularly dangerous amoeba called Acanthamoebacauses is commonly found in a variety of water sources. Water also causes the contact lens to change in shape. The contact lens may expand or shrink and cling to your cornea. Not only could this cause discomfort, the changing shape of the contact lens scratches the surface of the cornea – leaving your eyes vulnerable to infection that can lead to blindness. If you don’t replace your contacts, swimming with contacts becomes dangerous.
Alternately, if you are nearsighted you can opt for contact lenses called Nocturnal. Nocturnal™ are nighttime wear lenses that gently change the shape of your eye while you sleep. When you wake up and take out your Nocturnal contact lenses you will have clear vision all day. The lenses are made to fit the exact contours of your eyes using topographic mapping and are also tailored to suit your needs.
Although it is a rather costly option, consider getting Lasik eye surgery so you don’t have to worry about swimming with contacts. Lasik eye surgery permanently corrects nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.
Swimming with contacts is risky and dangerous, your eyesight is important and you must do whatever you can to protect yourself. Being informed to make better decisions is the first step, now equipped with the knowledge you can stay safe and have fun!