Is It A Good Idea To Swim With Contact Lenses?
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It is not a good idea to swim with contact lenses because your eyes can become contaminated with bacteria. Eye infections, irritation, and conditions like corneal ulcers that threaten your vision can occur when you swim with contact lenses.
According to the FDA, any exposure to water can be harmful, which includes water from the tap, pool water, shower water, and natural water, such as rivers, streams, the ocean, etc.
A great number of viruses and harmful microbes call water sources home. One very serious example is the Acanthamoeba organism, which is one of the most dangerous. When it attaches to contact lenses, it results in infection and inflammation of the cornea. If you develop Acanthamoeba keratitis, caused by failing to remove contact lenses while swimming, you may require a corneal transplant or even worse, lose your sight altogether.
In order to reduce the risk of infection and eye irritation if you accidentally forget and get water in your eyes while swimming, immediately remove your contact lenses and clean them. In order to cut down on the risks of bacterial contamination, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for properly caring for the lenses.
Soft contact lenses will probably stay on your eyes while swimming because they are porous, however, this will also make them more likely to absorb harmful chemicals and bacteria that cause infection and inflammation. Gas permeable contact lenses are rigid and will probably dislodge from your eyes.
Also, soft lenses may become quite uncomfortable if swimming pool water or fresh water gets in your eye because the soft lenses are likely to tighten on your eyes.
Your eyes have natural tears that are designed to keep your eyes lubricated. When you get water in your eyes while swimming, these tears are rinsed, which can make chronic eye conditions, like dry eyes, get worse.
If you must swim with your contact lenses in, it is best to wear daily disposable lenses because they are designed to be thrown away, so you won’t have to worry about disinfecting them. After swimming, be sure to immediately throw away the disposable lenses. Rinse your eyes and replace them with a fresh set. Compared to the cost of traditional contact lenses, daily disposable lenses are a good value.
Do goggles help protect your contact lenses?
The best way to help protect your contact lenses and keep from getting infections and irritations in your eyes when you swim is to wear swim goggles that are waterproof. Swim goggles not only reduce your risk of your contacts falling out, but they also protect you from getting waterborne bacteria and irritants.
An even better option is prescription swimming goggles, especially if you do a lot of swimming. They allow you to see underwater as if you are wearing contacts but without the risks of wearing contacts in the water. There are some brands that have ready-made prescription goggles, and they are made in the same way as glasses—they are custom made to correct your vision. Another great benefit to swimming goggles is that they are available with UV-protection, which can help protect your eyes from the damage that the sun can cause.
While they are a good option for adults and children, they are not without fault. There are limitations to the prescription powers available, and they do not correct astigmatism. Also, the two lenses have to be the same prescription, which is not always the case for people who wear glasses.
Are there other alternatives, such as LASIK eye surgery?
People who are nearsighted, farsighted, or those with astigmatisms often choose to have their vision corrected with LASIK eye surgery. This is especially popular for people with active lifestyles. After a successful LASIK eye surgery, they no longer have to worry about contact lenses and the risks involved with wearing them.
PRK and LASEK are also refractive surgery options like LASIK. They use a laser beam controlled by a computer to reshape the cornea. These surgeries give you clear vision by allowing light that enters the eye to properly focus on the retina.
Most people who have LASIK surgery, no longer need contact lenses or glasses and are able to obtain 20/20 vision or sometimes even better. There are some risks and complications of the procedure, as with any surgery, so you need to decide if the risks are worth the benefits.
There is a non-surgical way to temporarily reduce your need for contact lenses and glasses—ortho-k. Orthokeratology can correct your refractive error for a short amount of time. With ortho-k, you wear specially designed contact lenses at night. These reshape your cornea while you sleep, and when you take them out in the morning, you can see clearly and do not need your contact lenses or glasses during the day.
Whether you’re swimming or participating in another activity, you have options—see your doctor to decide what’s best for you.