Swimming with Contacts on Puts Your Eyes In Harm’s Way
If you are a contact wearer in Texas, chances are you’re wondering about the do’s and don’ts of jumping in the pool this summer with your lenses in. According to the American Optometric Association and the FDA, individuals who wear contacts should avoid going underwater, whenever possible. This includes swimming pools, the ocean, and hot tubs.
Why? For starters, the water may be contaminated and often carries harmful bacteria that could become trapped in your eye by your contact lens. When this happens, the effects are often painful, to say the least.
What are the potential side effects of swimming with contacts?
Depending on the body of water you are considering taking a dip in, you may be putting yourself at risk for infection or disease by swimming with your contacts in. Some of the potential side effects of this include:
- A painful infection, such as Acanthamoeba keratitis, which causes the cornea to become inflamed and infected
- Blurred vision
- Feeling of a foreign body in your eye
- Sensitivity to light
- Prolonged period of red, irritated eyes (even after you’ve taken your contacts out)
What You Should Know About Swimming with Contacts
Trust us, we know how much of a pain it is to have to take your contacts out every time you want to jump in the pool, especially during the hot Texas summers. However, taking extra precautions before swimming could save you from a nasty infection and some serious discomfort.
With that in mind, here are a few things you should keep in mind when it comes to swimming with contacts:
- Swimming with contacts can lead to eye infections, a corneal ulcer, pink eye, irritation, or other serious conditions
- Contacts should not be exposed to any water, if possible
- Water carries many different viruses, bacteria, and microbes, any of which can attach to your contacts, causing your cornea to become inflamed
- Swimming pool water can cause soft lenses to tighten or shrink, causing extreme irritation
- Because soft lenses are porous, chemicals and bacteria can easily become lodged inside
- If you must wear your contacts when swimming, wear goggles to protect your eyes
We highly recommend taking your contacts out before swimming, but if you have no other choice, be sure and remove them immediately after swimming and allow them to soak in contact solution for at least 24 hours. Before putting them back in your eyes, make sure they have been completely disinfected, as this will reduce your exposure to harmful bacteria.
How does chlorine affect the eyes?
One of the biggest problems with swimming with your contact lenses in is the chlorine found in swimming pools and hot tubs. Chlorine is basically bleach for water, ridding it of all those harmful microbes and bacteria we’ve been talking about.
That’s a good thing, right? While it’s great that chlorine zaps all the harmful bacteria out of the water for us, but it can be very damaging to our eyes. It actually breaks down the tear film in our eyes, which is what makes them glossy and prevents them from getting too dry. When this protective layer is taken away, it means germs and other unpleasant particles have a straight shot to the cornea.