Contact Lenses – Can you swim with them?

Submitted by Josh Talkington on June 21, 2017

Can You Swim With Contact Lenses?

Swimming with contact lenses should be avoided whenever possible to help prevent bacterial contamination of your eye. Going under water with contacts can result in eye infections, irritation and potentially sight-threatening conditions such as a corneal ulcer.  Always contact your eye doctor immediately if you experience prolonged eye irritation or sensitivity to light after wearing your contact lenses in water.

The FDA recommends that contact lenses should not be exposed to any kind of water, including tap water and water in swimming pools, oceans, lakes, hot tubs and showers. Water can be home to countless viruses and dangerous microbes. One of the most serious is the Acanthamoeba organism, which can attach to contact lenses and cause the cornea to become infected and inflamed, and potentially cause an emergency trip to your eye doctor and possibly serious damage to the cornea.

Proper care reduces further the chance of contamination. Rigid gas permeable lenses should never be worn while swimming, as they are more likely to dislodge from your eye. While soft contacts are more likely to remain on your eye when swimming, they are porous and can absorb chemicals and bacteria, increasing the risk of eye irritation and infection.  Also, fresh water and water in swimming pools can cause soft lenses to tighten on your eyes, causing significant discomfort.

If you do decide to swim with contact lenses, daily disposable lenses are the safest option. They are meant to be worn and thrown away after a single use, eliminating the need to clean and disinfect them. To be safe, it’s a good idea to discard daily disposable lenses immediately after swimming, rinse your eyes with preservative free wetting drops or artificial tears approved for use with contact lenses, and then replace the lenses with a fresh pair of daily disposables.



Can You Swim With Contact Lenses While Wearing Goggles?

If you’re going to swim while wearing contact lenses, the best way to reduce your risk of eye irritation and infection is to wear waterproof swim goggles.In addition to protecting your eyes from waterborne contaminants, swim goggles reduce the risk of your contacts dislodging from your eyes.

Prescription swimming goggles are another good option. An added advantage of wearing swim goggles is that you can choose UV-protective goggles to avoid sun damage to your eyes.


LASIK Eye Surgery

Many people, especially those with a very active, sporting lifestyle, choose to correct LASIK and say goodbye to glasses or contacts. LASIK surgery has an excellent safety profile, and most people achieve 20/20 vision or better without glasses or contact lenses after a LASIK procedure. Contact our office to set up your free LASIK evaluation.