Can I Swim With Contact Lenses?

25th May 2017

Warm heated swimming pools are extremely inviting, even with it being almost winter, allowing us to continue with our exercise routines or just generally have some fun. However if you wear contact lenses, you might be wondering if it’s okay to take the plunge with your lenses in. After all, how will you see otherwise? Unfortunately this might not be the best plan and here is why.

Why you shouldn’t wear contacts while swimming

It is recommended that contact lenses should not be exposed to any kind of water, including tap water, swimming pools, oceans, lakes, hot tubs and showers. Swimming with contact lenses can result in eye infections and more serious conditions such as a corneal ulcer. This happens because microbes such as the Acanthamoeba organism survive in the space between the contact lens and the eye. Even after you take out and clean your lenses, the Acanthamoeba can still infect your eyes even days later as it is resistant to most disinfecting systems. Acanthamoeba keratitis, or inflamation of the cornea, is almost exclusively associated with wearing contacts and can cause permanent vision loss or require a corneal transplant to recover lost vision if not treated early enough, in worst case scenarios.

But doesn’t a swimming pool have chlorine which kills most bacteria?

Even though many bacteria would be killed by the chlorine in most pools, it would not kill them all. Plus, the chlorine itself could cause a problem as the contact lenses could absorb the chemical and cause eye irritation. It may also make your lenses difficult to remove, as soft lenses tend to tighten against your eye.

Can You Swim With Contact Lenses While Wearing Goggles?

If you're going to swim while wearing contact lenses, the best way to reduce your risk of eye irritation and infection is to wear waterproof swim goggles. In addition to protecting your eyes from waterborne contaminants, swim goggles reduce the risk of your contacts dislodging from your eyes. Prescription swimming goggles however would be the best alternative. Prescription goggles are custom-made to correct your refractive error, just like eyeglasses or contact lenses, enabling you to see clearly underwater without any of the risks associated with swimming with contacts.

Best way ahead?

It is best to take your daily or monthly contact lenses out before coming in contact with water, even before taking a shower. If your vision is bad enough to need corrective lenses at all times, it is likely time to invest in a good pair of prescription swimming goggles before diving in. As an added bonus, these can also be made with UV protection to avoid sun damage.

If you are looking for good quality, corrective contact lenses online, please browse our available products or call us on 0800 800 536.