Is it safe to swim while wearing your contact lenses? While you may be able to get away with taking a dip while sporting your contacts without experiencing any negative effects, the FDA recommends keeping your contact lenses clean from all water, including that which is found in pools, hot tubs, the ocean and even your bathtub.
Swimming in lenses can cause a number of problems, including the risk of bacteria and microbes building up on your contacts. This can lead to serious and painful infections in your eyes. Corneal abrasion is just one of the many ailments that can affect you as a result of wearing contacts while swimming. Acanthamoeba keratitis infection is a common infection that can also come as a result, and the side effects can last several weeks or months. In severe cases, Acanthamoeba keratitis can lead to damaged corneas and even permanent loss of vision.
Health concerns aside, you can easily lose your contact lens in the water. Finding a clear contact in a pool of water can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack- almost impossible. Even worse, if you lose your contact lens in a lake or the ocean, it’s gone forever. In the event that you do find your contact lens, it will be coated in chemicals or germs found in the water and you should not put it back in your eye.
Therefore, the answer is no, it is not safe to swim while wearing contact lenses.
However, if you absolutely insist on going swimming with them in, take these precautions to keep your eyes safe:
• Wear goggles – This will keep the water out of your eyes and prevent nasty bacteria from getting under your contact lenses. You can also try using prescription goggles to eliminate the need for contacts in the first place.
• Wear disposable contact lenses - If you wear contacts made for one-day wear, dispose of them after swimming. If you wear weekly or monthly contacts, wear an older pair and also dispose of them after swimming. For a popular choice, check out the Acuvue 1 Day Moist contact lenses.
• Thoroughly clean your lenses after swimming – If you go swimming in contacts that you intend to wear again, be sure to take extra care when cleaning your lenses.
• Never swim under water with your eyes open – This will put you at an extremely high risk of losing your lenses as well as making it easy for bacteria and chemicals to enter your eyes.
If you notice swelling, redness, or pain in your eyes after going swimming in your contact lenses, contact your eye doctor immediately.