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Is it safe to swim in my contacts?

March 7, 2016 by Rachel K.

Is it safe to swim in my contacts?

During a warm afternoon, there is nothing more refreshing than the thought of jumping into the swimming pool to cool down and relax. Contact lens wearers have a different thought before jumping into the water. They often ponder, “Is it safe to swim in my contact lenses?"

The FDA recommends that contact lenses should not be exposed to any kind of water, including tap water and water in swimming pools, oceans, lakes, hot tubs and showers.

The FDA considers swimming in contact lenses a “serious hazard", and they recommend removing your contact lenses before swimming. When you expose your contact lenses to water, you can risk getting an eye infection from bacteria living in swimming pool water, hot tubs, lakes and oceans.

What About Goggles?

Let's say you are on the beach in Mexico and can't take in the beautiful sights while in the ocean with your contact lenses out. You might consider using a high-quality pair of goggles to protect your eyes and to prevent water from getting into your contact lenses.

In fact, the FDA advises against wearing your contact lenses without the protection of goggles in any type of water, including showers, oceans, lakes, or pools due to the increased risk of sustaining a bacterial infection.

Waterproof goggles can keep unwanted bacteria and contaminants from reaching your eyes, and simultaneously help to keep your contacts safely in your eyes while you are exploring underwater.

Risks of Swimming in Contacts

According to the University of Utah Health Care, fresh water and the water in swimming pools can cause soft contact lenses to constrict and tighten against your eyes, causing significant irritation. Soft lenses are porous, allowing chemicals and bacteria to lodge inside the lens and press against your eye, increasing chances of infection and irritation.

“It doesn't matter if it's fresh water or a chlorinated pool," stated Dr. Timothy Gibbons, an optometrist at University of Utah Health Care. “There are bugs and pathogens that chlorine doesn't kill, which could potentially cause damage to the cornea, infection or ulcers."

Next Swim

Before you take your next dip in the pool or ocean, consider the risks involved of swimming in your contact lenses. You should either remove your contacts prior to swimming or purchase protective goggles that will keep the water from entering your eyes.

If you take these precautions, you can still enjoy your next swim and your eyes will be healthier in the long run.

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