Can You Wear Contact Lenses While Swimming?

Can You Wear Contact Lenses While Swimming?
Can You Wear Contact Lenses While Swimming? (Image: Creative Commons License, by: metro, copyright: October 2006, Creative Commons License, by: ragazzo bavarese, copyright: October 2006, Creative Commons License, by: wemdoe, copyright: April 2007)

Swimming with your contact lenses on, is possible but very risky. The health risk associated is merely dependent upon the body of water you are in. When swimming on lakes and rivers, there is a huge possibility for a microorganism called acanthamoeba to adhere to your lens, causing infection and inflammation of your cornea (acanthamoeba keratitis). Swimming around pools and ocean waters on the other hand, decreases your susceptibility to microbial infection, but other problems may evolve. In the pool--eye irritation is possible when chlorine sticks on the surface of your lens; in the ocean--your contact lenses can be dislodge when you encounter large waves. You can still wear your lenses, but do so but with proper precautions.

Things You'll Need

  • Disposable contact lenses
  • Goggles
  • Sterile saline or multipurpose eye solution

Wear protective goggles. This is the most effective way to protect your lenses when you have them on while you're swimming. Goggles will prevent irritant chlorine from getting into your contact lenses and eyes while you are in the pool. The way your goggles tightly fit around your eye sockets, will shield your eyes against invasion of microbes and also prevent your contact lenses from being dislodged away from your eyes when you encounter waves or water splashes.

Go for soft and disposable contact lenses. Soft and disposable contact lenses are more ideal than hard lenses when you're swimming. It is because soft disposable contact lenses have larger circumference that enable them to firmly stick to your eyes, preventing them from being dislodged while you swim. And since it is disposable, you can just throw them away after you're swimming--keeping your eyes safe from any microbes and other harmful contaminants.

Apply sterile saline solution to your eyes. There is a huge possibility for you to feel dryness in your eyes when you swim. So it is advisable to apply sterile saline solution to your eyes-- as this provides lubrication that allows you contact lenses to properly stick to your eyes, preventing them from drying and falling off.

Rinse and disinfect your lenses immediately with sterile multipurpose solution after leaving the water. Make sure to clean your contact lenses right away if you are not using the disposable kind. Rinse them first and then soak them in the solution for a few minutes before wearing them. Again, this is only applicable for non-disposable contact lenses. If you are wearing the disposable ones, just throw them after you're done swimming, and replace them with a new pair.

Tips & Warnings

  • Instead of wearing contact lenses while swimming, you can also opt for using prescription goggles. These types of goggles provide corrective power that enables you to see even without your lenses on.
  • Make sure to bring extra pair of contact lenses, multipurpose solution and glasses when you are planning to wear contact lenses in the water.
  • Go to your doctor immediately if you experience eye itchiness, irritation, dry and salty eyes, increased sensitivity to light and pain after wearing your contact lenses in water.
  • Do not wear your contact lenses when you are swimming around slow-flowing rivers, lakes, contaminated pools and man-made water holes--as these bodies of water may contain microbes that can attach and multiply on the surfaces of your contact lens, causing eye infection.

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