News & Blog
Can You Swim With Contacts?
28th May, 2015
With summer coming up, you may be thinking of hitting the nearest pool in the next few weeks. That’s why you should stick around, as The Eye Blog asks; can you swim with contacts?
Truth to the rumour
If you wear contact lenses you’ll have faced this dilemma at some point. You need to be able to see where you’re going when you swim, but you’ve heard that swimming whilst wearing contact lenses can damage your eyes. Is there any truth to the rumour?
Usually we would say no, but in this case the rumour doesn’t completely depend on misinformation. This is because when you swim, you run the risk of getting water in your eyes. According to Specsavers this can:
– Wash the lenses right out of your eyes.
– Cause eye infections, irritation and potentially sight-threatening conditions such as a corneal ulcer.
– Make lenses tighten on your eyes. This will cause incredible discomfort!
– Worsen existing eye conditions such as chronic dry eyes, because water washes away the tears that provide your eyes with natural lubrication.
It depends on the body of water
Yet it isn’t so clear cut as saying you should never wear contact lenses when you go swimming. It depends on the body of water you’ve chosen to paddle in.
What we’re about to say next is set in stone. You should never wear contact lenses when you’re swimming in salt water or fresh water e.g. lakes, seas, rivers etc. This is because natural bodies of water are breeding grounds for the type of bacteria that can lead to infection if water gets in your eyes when you’re swimming with lenses in.
However the risk of infection is much lower in a swimming pool because the water is chlorinated, so you may be able to get away with wearing lenses at the local baths. We would like to note, however, that your lenses may absorb the chlorine, which can lead to eye irritation.
Take precautions when you swim with contacts
This means that you can swim whilst wearing contact lenses as long as you take certain precautions. These precautions include:
– Wearing goggles: This is vital as Goggles place a barrier between the water and your eyes.
– Caring for your lenses: We would always suggest that you take proper care of your lenses. This reduces the ever-present risk of infection. The same applies when you wear your lenses whilst swimming.
– Refraining from showing off. Goggles aren’t a magic seal. Water can still seep in if you’re not careful. That’s why you should avoid from indulging in any iffy water-based acrobatics when you travel out to the local swimming pool.
What should you do when you get water in your eyes?
You can take these steps and sometimes you still won’t be able to prevent water getting in your eyes. If you’re unlucky enough to find yourself in this situation, we suggest you remove, wash and disinfect your contact lenses immediately.
Hopefully this should mitigate any problems caused by swimming whilst wearing contact lenses. However, if you take these steps and they don’t help go to your local optician. They will perform a standard eye test to determine if swimming with contact lenses has inflicted any damage on your eyes.
Does this sound like a risk you don’t want to run? If so, there are two things you can do if you want to swim with contacts in without having to reach for the solution every time a drop of water seeps into your eyes.
First, All About Vision argue that if you absolutely have to wear contact lenses while you swim, dailies are the best option. This is because they’re designed so that you can wear them and throw them away after a single use, so if water does get in your eye you can just throw them in the bin and pop in a new pair. The site does suggest, however that you should throw your dailies away the minute you climb out of the pool to be on the safe side.
Alternatively, you can eliminate the need for contact lenses by opting for a pair of prescription goggles instead. They work the same way as glasses or prescription sunglasses. Prescription goggles are custom made to suit your refractive error. This means you’ll be able to see clearly when you’re under water without running the risks of swimming with contacts in.
The Eye Blog weighs in
In conclusion, The Eye Blog wants to take a moment to categorically state that you can swim with contact lenses in, but you shouldn’t. Wear prescription goggles instead. If you absolutely have to swim with contacts in, either opt for dailies or wear goggles at all times to lower the risk of water getting into your eyes.
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