If you ask an ophthalmologist whether it's safe to go swimming with contact lenses, you might get the answer "no". Water is a natural habitat for bacteria and other microorganisms, which can be found in swimming pools, lakes, rivers, oceans, hot tubs, and even tap water.
These microorganisms are constantly present around us, and our body's normal defense system usually helps us interact with them safely. However, when contact lenses are worn, they can interfere with our body's natural ability to protect itself.
Why is water not good for contact lenses?
Contact lenses act like tiny sponges that absorb everything they come in contact with. When they are exposed to water, the water is absorbed into the lens and sticks to the surface of the eye. This allows microorganisms in the water to attack the surface of the eye.
The natural defense mechanism of the eye is to blink, which flushes out microorganisms with tears. However, with contact lenses attached to the eyes, microorganisms can hide under the lens and cause infection. The contact lens also reduces the natural defense mechanism of the eyes by inhibiting blinking and the flushing of microorganisms.
Acanthamoeba Keratitis Infection
This infection is found in lakes, ponds, rivers, and oceans. Microorganisms that occur naturally in these bodies of water can lead to eye infections. Chemicals found in swimming pools and hot tubs can also cause eye irritation. These factors increase the risk of infection as microorganisms can infect the eye even through treated and filtered tap water.
Acanthamoeba Keratitis is a serious infection that can cause permanent damage to the eye, including blindness. It is essential to avoid swimming or wearing contact lenses in bodies of water that are not regularly treated, filtered, or disinfected.
In conclusion, it is not safe to swim with contact lenses because microorganisms can stick to the lens and attack the surface of the eye, causing serious infections. It is important to remove contact lenses before swimming and take the necessary precautions to prevent eye infections when engaging in water-related activities.
"If you still want to swim with contact lenses?
It is difficult to prohibit anyone from wearing contact lenses to swim or bathe. The reality is that many people do wear contact lenses while swimming and bathing. If you decide to swim with contact lenses, there are precautions you can take to reduce the risk of complications. If you swim frequently and want to wear contact lenses, the safest option is to use daily disposable lenses and discard them after swimming.
If you use lenses that are designed for monthly wear, it's a good idea to remove them after swimming and replace them with a fresh pair. If that's not possible, make sure to clean and disinfect the lenses with a quality contact lens solution before reusing them. Wearing contact lenses while swimming, and even sleeping with them, can increase your risk of serious infections.
Prescription swim goggles
There are several options for prescription swim goggles, which are a safer alternative to wearing contact lenses while swimming. Prescription swim goggles can also protect against UV radiation if you swim outdoors frequently. The drawback of prescription swim goggles is that they may be difficult to find for people with complex prescriptions.
For those who are swimmers, triathletes, lifeguards, surfers, or anyone who spends a lot of time in the water, it is worth considering other options. This may include wearing glasses or contact lenses that are not designed for swimming or opting for LASIK eye surgery to correct vision permanently."
The best way is to remove contact lenses before swimming, playing in the water, or bathing. If you swim with contact lenses, wear swimming goggles over the lenses or remove the lenses after the activity. If you experience any problems after swimming, contact an eye doctor as soon as possible.