Can I Wear Contact Lenses Swimming?

Contact Lenses afford freedom and flexibility that makes them ideal for athletes of all kinds, so what about swimming? What happens when you wear contacts in the water? What are the best options for summer swimmers, athletes and lifeguards who need to wear prescription contact lenses to see properly?
 

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Glasses or Contacts? What's Best For Your Summer Activities

Contact lenses have become a popular alternative to traditional eyeglasses, and for good reason.

Benefits of Contact Lenses Include:

  • Undetectable
  • Afford more flexibility 
  • Cheaper per unit
  • Often Better suited to athletic lifestyles

As we approach spring and summer, many of us might be thinking what is the harm in wearing my contact lenses in the water or swimming? In this article, we discuss the effects of wearing contact lenses in the water and the best solutions for your water-related activities.

 

Swimming with Contact Lenses

There are two reasons you might want to be able to swim with contact lenses- one is in case you need to jump in and still be able to see when you surface, and the other so that you can see underwater. The problem with the latter being that you cannot see underwater without goggles anyways. Even with goggles keeping water out, you run the risk of getting your contacts wet. Pool, lake, ocean and even tap water are extremely harmful to your contact lenses. This can lead to displacing the contact lens from the eye, bacteria build up on the lens, shrinking and irritation of the contact lens, and even serious infection or ulcers on the cornea of your eye. If you think you might have to get your contacts wet, ask your optometrist about disposable daily contacts so that you can remove them right away, dispose of them and put in a fresh pair for much cheaper than replacing monthly contact lenses. 
 

Lifeguards

If you are planning to be a lifeguard at a lake or pool this summer or already work as a lifeguard then you likely have considered the benefits of glasses vs. contacts.

Common problems with glasses include:

  • They can easily fall off your face during activities
  • fog up while you’re checking the steam room, heading into humid areas or indoors from the cold
  • Need constant cleaning from water droplets, dirt and grime that obstruct your vision.
  • Expensive
  • Breakable and fragile

Talk about a hazard for even the most diligent of us. If you work outside, you will need polarized sunglasses with UV protection to fight against the glare of the water and sun to see patrons and protect your eyes. Even if you get transition or snap-on sunglasses, prescription glasses can run up a hefty bill which makes them quite unaffordable if you might lose or break them during a rescue. So what are you left with? One might reasonably conclude that contact lenses are the way to go. While you could dislodge or lose a contact lens, your other lens might stay put during a rescue which will help you to see. Plus, contact lenses are inexpensive to replace and can offer UV protection. So what happens if they get wet and can you swim with them? 

 

Summer Swimming Solutions for Prescription Vision

If you want to go swimming or expect you will end up in the pool or lake this summer, don’t fret. Here are a couple of solutions that may work for you. 


Daily Contact Lenses

As mentioned above, these are cheap and disposable. Although you won’t want to go for a long swim with them by any means, they stand a better chance of staying in your eye than rigid gas permeable contact lenses for example and are the most hygienic option. Don’t worry about what organisms or bacteria have latched onto your lens, just toss them and swap them out for a new pair tomorrow instead of storing them in a bacteria farm overnight. 

Prescription Goggles

Just because you need a prescription to see clearly, doesn’t mean that contact lenses are the best option for you. Perhaps heading to your swimming lane or edge of the shore and carefully storing your glasses in their case in exchange for a sporty pair of prescription goggles are your best bet. After all, you need goggles to see underwater anyway, so why not invest in a 2-in-one solution. 

 

Find What Works For You

What works best for you may depend on personal preferences and the extent of your water activities. If you have time to prepare to get into the water, perhaps prescription goggles are best. If you don't mind replacing a pair of sunnies, or think you can keep them out of the water, then prescription sunglasses could work as well. Your optometrist will be able to conduct a contact lens fitting and eye exam to determine if you are a good candidate for contact lenses if you think that would be best for you. They will be able to suggest different daily or monthly contact lense brands which may offer UV and UVB protection, colours, or extra hydration for dry eyes for example. Contact Specs in the City, or book online for a contact lens fitting or eye exam today!


FAQ’s


What happens if you wear contact lenses while swimming?

Sand, Salt and bacteria can get caught under the lens causing irritation and swelling. Contact lenses could shrink, lose their lubrication, fall out, dislodge into your eye, or become a bacteria hub that can cause irritation, infection, ulcers and even blindness. 

What do I do if I get my monthly contacts wet?

The best and safest solution is to throw them away, however, we understand trying to save your contact lenses, especially if they are a new pair. You’ll want to take them out and disinfect with contact solution, rubbing between your thumb and forefinger for 2o seconds and placing them in a contact lens container of fresh solution. After a few hours, take them out and reclean them with contact solution, and use a new container of fresh solution. Don’t use anything else to clean them such as saliva or tap water. Make sure to swap contact lens containers often and do not clean them with water either. 

Can I wear contact lenses in the shower?

No. You may not notice the dangerous risks of exposing contact lenses right away other than swelling, shrinking or irritation of the lens but shower/tap water contains bacteria and microbes that can lead to all the same issues as listed above.

 

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