Losing your contact lenses is the least of your problems if you wear them while at the pool. Northview Eye Care takes a closer look at why wearing contact lenses while swimming is a bad idea.
Why You Shouldn’t Wear Contact Lenses While Swimming
Water can loosen contact lenses from your eyes, which makes them extremely difficult to find, especially in a crowded pool. It may not be that big of a deal if you are wearing disposable contacts, but losing your contact lenses is the least problematic part of wearing them while swimming. The FDA recommends that contact lenses should not be exposed to any kind of water, and that includes water in the pool, from any natural body of water and even tap water.
Unlike prescribed cleaning fluids for contact lenses, water may be home to microbes and pathogens that can get trapped between the eye and the contact lenses. This can lead to eye infections, irritation and other sight-threatening conditions. Acanthamoeba, in particular, can be found in most bodies of water. When trapped in contact lenses, it can cause diseases such as Acanthamoeba keratitis, Granulomatous Amebic Encephalitis (GAE) and disseminated infection. If you had unknowingly worn your contact lenses while swimming, take them off, clean them, then see an eye doctor within the next few hours.
Alternatives to Contact Lenses
Considering the aforementioned dangers, it doesn’t mean you should stop swimming altogether. The simplest way to avoid such eye problems is by making it a habit to remove and store your contacts before you swim. If this is not an option, wear prescription goggles, especially if you plan on swimming frequently or even competitively.
Another alternative is treating your eyes themselves. Talk to your ophthalmologist about procedures like Lasik and Orthokeratology or “ortho-k.” The latter is a noninvasive eye therapy that involves the use of shaped contact lenses. By wearing them at night for a prescribed period, it can help correct eyesight—enough to not need contact lenses at all.