Remember those childhood summers spent at the pool? Entire days could pass while you were diving in search of submerged pool toys – often with the help of those goofy full-face goggles. Once you got a little older, you may have spent time training yourself to swim with your eyes open. Splashing around and gazing underwater with open eyes can be fun when you’re a kid – but what about when you’re an adult wearing contact lenses? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially recommends that contact lenses should not be exposed to any kind of water. However, that can be hard to do when you’re on the go in the summertime. So is swimming with contacts really a bad idea?
Swimming with Contacts: Bad Idea?
The Trouble with Chlorine
Most public pools are packed with chlorine. In essence, chlorine serves as bleach for water, killing harmful bacteria to keep pool-goers safe and healthy. Sounds safe, right? Well, when chlorine goes into your eyes, it can actually make it easier for bacteria to enter your eyes. This is because chlorine wears away at your eye’s superficial layer of tears, drying them out and giving germs a free ride to your cornea.
Swimming in Bacteria
If chlorine makes the eyes vulnerable to bacteria, just think about what it does to contact lenses. Most contact lenses are made of porous, soft plastic, giving bacteria a wet, sticky surface on which to thrive. If bacteria creep past your contact lenses, it’s essentially pressed against your dry eyes, which is an infection waiting to happen. At the very least, you might suffer from irritation or icky conditions like pink eye. On a more serious note, you might contract Acanthamoeba keratitis, which can cause permanent vision loss.
Safer Ways to Swim with Contacts
Overall, swimming with contacts is a bad idea. If you’re in a bind, at least make sure to remove your rigid gas permeable (GP) contact lenses, which are most likely to pop out while you’re swimming. You should also avoid soft contact lenses, which are likely to absorb chemicals and bacteria. Your best bet? Daily disposable contact lenses, which you can throw away immediately after swimming. However, swimming with any contact lenses can leave your eyes vulnerable.
Alternatives to Swimming with Contacts
So you don’t want to wear contacts while swimming, but you still want to enjoy a few laps in the pool – what do you do? Waterproof swim goggles are your best bet. They protect your eyes from bacteria while ensuring your contact lenses stay put. You can also invest in prescription swimming goggles, which are custom-made for your vision issues just like eyeglasses.
Ultimately, swimming with contact lenses isn’t a good idea. Swimming with your contacts can result in eye infections and even potentially sight-threatening conditions. However, that doesn’t mean you have to hang around by the side of the pool all summer long. Simply wear waterproof goggles.
When did you last visit your optometrist? If you live in southwest Missouri, contact Heffington’s. Since 1975, the Heffington family has been assisting the Springfield community with top-quality eye care and affordable eyeglasses and contacts. One of the unique features of our family-owned business is that we manufacture lenses at our own laboratory, giving us total control over the service and pricing, and we’re happy to pass our savings on to you. To learn more about our products and services, please get in touch with us online, send an email to [email protected], or give us a call at 417-869-3937 (Optiland location) or 417-882-3937 (House of Vision location). We look forward to hearing from you!