Why shouldn’t I swim with contact lenses in?

19. April 2019

Summer is here and the time has come to enjoy swimming and all kinds of water sports. People with vision problems often have difficulties in beach or in swimming pools because it’s hard to see without glasses or contact lenses and wearing glasses is uncomfortable and using contact lenses even dangerous. ​ KSA Vison Clinic’s Dr Ants Havel explains why you shouldn’t swim with contact lenses in.

It’s not recommended to swim with contact lenses in as water can get into the eye and on the lenses, and it’s precisely this which can cause irreversible damage to your eyesight, notes Dr Havel. And that’s why it’s not recommended to get in a pool, lake, the sea, or even a bath with contact lenses in. In other words, contact lenses are intended for dry use and they shouldn’t come into contact with any liquid, whether that’s tap, pool, or sea water.

Water contains bacteria, amoeba, and parasites

The reason is simple. Water contains different bacteria, amoeba, and parasites which can quickly and easily become embedded in contact lenses and cause serious problems for the eyes. The worst of these is the Acanthamoeba parasite, which can be found in soil and dust as well as swimming pools, for example. “It can cause eye infections, redness, irritation, and even corneal ulcers which can cause damage to eyesight”.

The United States Food and Drug Administration similarly recommends that contact lenses should not come into contact with any type of water, including tap, pool, ocean, lake, river, shower, and bath water. If water ends up in the eye when swimming with contact lenses in, the lens should be immediately removed from the eye, cleaned, and disinfected to avoid irritation to the eye and the risk of infection. The safest option is not to swim, bathe, or shower with contact lenses in.

No contact lenses are suited to water

There are different types of contact lens but it is not safe to swim with any of them as contact with water is not good for any lens. If you decide to go into the water with contact lenses in regardless, then try not to get your eyes wet or let them come into contact with water. It’s best to use single use contact lenses as these can be thrown out if they get wet. “Tap water should not be used for cleaning or storing contact lenses” explains Dr Haavel.

Remember

* Whenever possible, do not use contact lenses when in water
* If there is no other option, do your best to ensure that the lenses do not come into contact with water
* If water gets into the eye, remove the lens immediately and discard or carefully disinfect.