Swimming is great fun and a good way to try and stay fit and healthy but some people can be put off from taking the plunge because they think it may be difficult when wearing contact lenses. They have good reason to be wary but there may be ways that you are comfortable with that can protect your contact lenses while you are swimming.
Here is a look at the possible risks of swimming with contacts in and how you can protect them from infection.
The first thing to say is that swimming with contact lenses is best avoided if at all possible as you run the risk of bacterial contamination of your eye. Swimming while using contact lenses can result in eye infections, potential irritation and in extreme cases, the threat of sight-threatening conditions such as corneal ulcer.
Why swimming pool water is bad for your lenses
It is recommended that contact lenses are not exposed to any kind of water, even tap water, so any public environment like a swimming pool or a hot tub is a no-go zone.
Water houses numerous microbes and viruses and the most serious of these is the Acanthamoeba organism which has the ability to attach to the contact lens and lead it to become infected and inflamed. The condition which is known as Acanthamoeba keratitis is commonly associated with wearing contact lenses while swimming and is serious enough to cause permanent loss of vision if not treated early enough.
What to do if water gets in your eyes
Although there are many different types of contact lenses available, there are not any specific ones that will be able to provide you with complete protection from water getting into your eyes.
If water does get into your eyes while you are swimming then you should remove and thoroughly clean and disinfect your contact lenses at the earliest opportunity in order to reduce the risk of any eye irritation or infection.
Protecting your eyes
You should be aware that rigid gas permeable contact lenses should never be worn in a swimming pool as they are far more likely to dislodge from your eye than any other type of lens. Soft contacts are more reliable in terms of remaining on your eye but they are porous and therefore susceptible to absorbing chemicals and bacteria.
Fresh water and the treated water found in swimming pools can have the effect of causing the soft lenses to tighten on your eyes which will in all probability, cause you a great deal of discomfort and not make swimming that enjoyable if that occurs.
Daily disposable contact lenses are probably the safest option to choose if you have to wear lenses when you are swimming as you can dispose of them rather than have to disinfect or clean them after you have finished.
Getting water in your eyes when swimming will also rinse away the natural tears that help to lubricate your eyes so for the best protection possible in the water you should look to obtain some water-proof swim goggles. You can actually get some brands of goggles that come in ready-made prescription versions, meaning that you can potentially enjoy a healthy swim without hopefully damaging your eyes.
Protecting your eyes while swimming is very important if you are a contact lens wearer and you should exercise healthy caution to ensure you stay safe from infection whilst enjoying a good swim.