Can I swim with contact lenses?

Wearing contact lenses while swimming should be avoided whenever possible as it leaves your eyes vulnerable to contamination by harmful bacteria present in the water, putting you at risk of eye irritation and infections.

Quick advice on swimming with lenses

  • Avoid swimming in lenses as water may contaminate them and distort their shape.
  • If you must wear lenses while swimming, wear daily disposables with waterproof swimming goggles.
  • Consider prescription goggles to correct refractive errors and see clearly under water.

Learn more about daily contact lenses

Reasons to avoid contact lenses while swimming

Contact lenses require good hygiene. The water in swimming pools, rivers and oceans hosts an abundance of bacteria, viruses and microorganisms, many of which can be quite harmful for your eyes. Acanthamoeba for example, is an organism found in many water sites. When it comes in contact with your lenses, it attaches to them and can cause the surface of your eye to become inflamed and eventually infected.

Contact lenses will also naturally absorb any water around them, which could change their shape dramatically. This will make them uncomfortable to wear, often causing your vision to become distorted and blurry.

What to do if you must swim with lenses

If, for any reason, you must swim with contact lenses and you simply cannot avoid wearing them, consider wearing daily disposables along with waterproof swimming goggles. Because the water is host to a variety of potentially harmful microorganisms, dailies will give you the freedom to use contact lenses while swimming without needing to clean and rinse them afterwards. All you need to do is put them in before your swim and throw them out immediately after.

If at any time you feel discomfort with your contact lenses while swimming, be sure to remove and discard them immediately. It is also worth visiting your optician for any advice involving swimming in your lenses.

Alternatives to contact lenses while swimming

Ideal for regular swimmers, prescription swimming goggles are a fantastic investment that correct your vision while you swim.

They are custom made and work the same way eyeglasses do – by correcting specific refractive errors like myopia (shortsightedness), hyperopia (longsightedness) and presbyopia, according to your prescription. Because they seal off the water from coming into contact with your eyes, you will be able to see clearly underwater without the risk of contamination.

Some brands of prescription swimming goggles are even available as ready-made models, which come with the same prescription figures for both eyes. Before purchasing, we recommend that you check the goggles against the prescription you received from your optician to ensure that it matches exactly.

Can you Swim with Contact Lenses?

With the warm summer days come lots of a opportunities to swim. If you’re a contact lens wearer, you might be wondering if it’s okay to take the plunge with you’re lenses in. After all, how will you see otherwise? Unfortunately, we hate to be the bearers of bad news, but swimming with contacts can be very dangerous to your eyes. Read on to learn why and what to do instead.

Why you shouldn’t wear contacts while swimming

The FDA recommends that contact lenses should not be exposed to any kind of water. Swimming with contact lenses can result in eye infections and more serious conditions such as a corneal ulcer. This happens because microbes such as the Acanthamoeba organism survive in the space between the contact lens and the eye. Even after you take out and clean your lenses, the Acanthamoeba can still infect your eyes even days later as it is resistant to most disinfecting systems. Acanthamoeba keratitis, or inflamation of the cornea, is almost exclusively associated with wearing contacts and can cause vision loss.

Is swimming in a pool okay?

No, swimming in a pool is not okay. Even though many bacteria would be killed by the chlorine in most pools, it would not kill them all. Plus, the chlorine itself could cause a problem as the contact lenses could absorb the chemical and cause eye irritation. It may also make your lenses difficult to remove.

What to do instead?

Be sure to take your contact lenses out before coming in contact with water, even before taking a shower. If your vision is so bad you need corrective lenses at all times, invest in a good pair of prescription swimming goggles before diving in. These can also be made with UV protection for an added bonus against sun damage to your eyes.

Hitting the beach or the pool can be a fun way to beat the heat this summer. With a little precaution, you can keep your eyes healthy from the 4th to Labor Day weekend.

Can You Swim With Contacts: Will Contact Lenses Fall Out Underwater?

If you swim with contact lenses you may wonder whether or not your contacts will fall out if you open your eyes underwater. Not only will you risk losing them, but most of all you will risk an eye infection. In this article, we discuss the dangers of swimming with contacts in, what to do if you choose to wear them while swimming, and the best goggles for contact lens wearers.

“Can you swim with contacts?” You really shouldn’t and here’s why…

Dangers of Swimming with Contact Lenses

It is likely that your contact lenses will fall out if you open your eyes underwater. They might stay in place if you only open them for a moment but we highly discourage you from swimming with contacts.

Swimming with contacts puts you at risk of developing an eye infection when bacteria from the pool or lake gets stuck under your contact lens.

The bacteria that gets stuck under contact lenses can cause a condition calledAcanthamoeba Keratitis, which is characterized by:

  • red eye
  • eye pain
  • light sensitivity
  • blurred vision

If you experience these symptoms, please visit your optometrist or eye doctor as soon as possible.

Best Practices for Swimming with Contacts

If you choose to wear contacts in the water be sure to follow these best practices to prevent eye infections.

1. Wear Waterproof Goggles

Wearing waterproof goggles while swimming with contact lenses will help prevent eye infections caused by bacteria from the water getting stuck under your contacts. Choosing the right goggles can make the difference between a relaxing swim and an uncomfortable experience, check out this article for tips on choosing the best non-prescription goggles for you.

If you are a serious swimmer that wants to forgo wearing contact lenses, you can purchase prescription swim goggles. There are a number of prescription swim goggle brands that cater to the needs of both recreational and sports swimmers. Not only will you protect your eyes and your contact lenses from germs and bacteria by wearing prescription goggles, you will also protect them from chemicals like chlorine and bromine used to treat pools and chemically resistant bacteria that may be lurking in the water. Some prescription goggle brands to look into are:

  • AquaSphere
  • Sporti
  • Aquasee
  • Speedo
  • Zoggs
  • Swans
  • Tyr

You can find these brands on Amazon, Walmart or any swim gear store.

2. Rinse With Contact Solution

Make sure to rinse with contact lens solution before and after your swim session to remove any bacteria. A multipurpose contact lens solution rinses, cleans, disinfects, neutralizes and removes protein buildup from contact lenses without scratching the lenses. Storing contact lenses in the solution keeps lenses hydrated and sterile.

There is a difference between a saline solution and contact lens solution. Do not use saline solution unless your eye doctor has recommended it as part of your lens-cleaning process. Saline solution does not contain a cleaning agent. If your eye doctor does recommend adding saline be sure to buy a commercial preparation that has been approved for contact lens use.

3. Replace Contacts ASAP

Completely replace your contact lenses as soon as possible! Risk of infection is increased in water because there are lots of germs – a particularly dangerous amoeba called Acanthamoebacauses is commonly found in a variety of water sources. Water also causes the contact lens to change in shape. The contact lens may expand or shrink and cling to your cornea. Not only could this cause discomfort, the changing shape of the contact lens scratches the surface of the cornea – leaving your eyes vulnerable to infection that can lead to blindness. If you don’t replace your contacts, swimming with contacts becomes dangerous.


Alternately, if you are nearsighted you can opt for contact lenses called Nocturnal. Nocturnal™ are nighttime wear lenses that gently change the shape of your eye while you sleep. When you wake up and take out your Nocturnal contact lenses you will have clear vision all day. The lenses are made to fit the exact contours of your eyes using topographic mapping and are also tailored to suit your needs.

Although it is a rather costly option, consider getting Lasik eye surgery so you don’t have to worry about swimming with contacts. Lasik eye surgery permanently corrects nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

In Conclusion…

Swimming with contacts is risky and dangerous, your eyesight is important and you must do whatever you can to protect yourself. Being informed to make better decisions is the first step, now equipped with the knowledge you can stay safe and have fun!

Swimming with Contacts

Are you thinking about swimming with your contact lenses? Don’t.

The American Optometric Association and the U.S. FDA recommend that you avoid going into water while you’re wearing contact lenses. This includes lakes, the ocean, swimming pools, hot tubs, and even showers.

Why? The water may contain many unseen threats to your eyes. Your contact lenses might trap some of these microorganisms, resulting in harmful after effects.

One of these threats is Acanthamoeba keratitis (eh-can-tha-mee-bah kehr ah tie-tus). Acanthamoeba species are ubiquitous microscopic organisms found in the soil and lake water. “Keratitis” refers to an inflammation of the cornea.

According to the AOA, Acanthamoeba rarely cause infection. But when Acanthamoeba keratitis does strike, the results can be extremely serious and even threaten your vision.*

Symptoms listed by the AOA include:

  • A red, painful eye infection
  • Blurred vision with a foreign body sensation, tearing, and a sensitivity to light
  • An usually long period of red, irritated eyes—even after removing your contacts

Organisms such as Acanthamoeba usually wash away from your eyes without contacts. But they could potentially infect you even without wearing contacts.

Avoid using tap water for rinsing or storing contacts

There’s a reason why we need to clean and disinfect contacts we remove and put on again using the proper products prescribed by your eye doctor: It helps get rid of organisms and keep your eyes healthy.

For best results, use the “rub and rinse” regimen method—even if you have “no rub” solution.

Daily disposable contacts may help reduce the risk of eye infections. But be aware, wearing them doesn’t completely eliminate the risk of an infection occurring. However, wearing daily disposables will help you in other ways, like avoiding the need for daily cleaning routines and provide you with a fresh, new pair every day.

Always follow your eye doctor’s recommendations for wearing and cleaning your contact lenses. Don’t try to save a few pennies by topping off old contact lens cleaning solution with new.

The AOA also recommends replacing your contact lens storage case every three months, if not sooner. Try to keep it away from the toilet and let the case remain open and dry between cleanings.

Following good hygiene habits is important when wearing contacts.

Ask your eye doctor about guidelines for contact lens care

Your optometrist is there to do more than simply prescribe new lenses for you.

Feel free to ask questions about guidelines for wearing contacts if you don’t understand anything your eye doctor tells you. And if you should encounter any eye pain, whether you wear contacts or not, contact a medical professional immediately.

You only have two eyes. Take care of them.

Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your eye care practitioner.

* The American Optometric Association

Swimming in Contact Lenses

It’s no secret–contact lenses and water don’t mix. Whether you’ve inadvertently splashed it in your eye or tried to use it in place of solution in a pinch, you know that water is no good in and around your contacts. Although it’s easy to forget, swimming in your contacts is no different.

The reason why you should avoid letting your lenses come into contact with water is legitimate: water is often home to countless numbers of organisms, and your lenses can easily trap those organisms, exposing your eyes to bacteria that can cause anything from irritation to serious infection. One of the more extreme (but rare) cases is a condition called Acanthamoeba keratitis, which, if left untreated, can cause permanent vision loss or require a corneal transplant.

It’s always best to remove your contact lenses before you swim, but since many people prefer to see when they swim (uh, ever seen Jaws?), simply removing them ahead of time may not be an option. We get it, so here are some tips to ensure you can soak up summer at 20/20 and consider your eye health at the same time.

  • Daily disposable contact lenses are best to wear while swimming because you can throw them out and open a new set of clean lenses when you’re done. Be sure to rinse your eyes with rewetting drops before putting in the new lenses.
  • If you don’t have daily disposables, always remove and thoroughly clean your contact lenses with solution as soon as possible after swimming. Throw a clean case and travel-sized solution into your pool or beach bag to make this easy (pro-tip: flip your phone upside-down and use your front-facing camera as a makeshift mirror).
  • If you find that your eyes are irritated or sensitive to light for a prolonged period after swimming in your lenses, contact your doctor to make sure it’s not a more serious problem.

Fun fact: if you’re really committed, you can go so far as to buy prescription swimming goggles. Yes, they exist.

Can you Swim whilst wearing

Contact Lenses?

Exposing your contact lenses to water increases the risk of infection from naturally occurring bacteria. Water contains microorganisms that can normally be harmless to humans, however, in very rare instances they can attach to your contact lenses and remain on the surface potentially leading to serious eye conditions which can cause the cornea to become infected. Symptoms can include inflammation, redness, pain, light sensitivity and watering of the eye, and if left untreated it can even lead to vision loss.
Keeping your eyes healthy with your contact lenses where water is concerned is easy.
Just follow these simple steps;

  • Remove contact lenses before engaging with any activity involving water.
  • Ensure you wash and dry your hands properly prior to handling your lenses.
  • Never use tap water to rinse your contact lenses or contact lens case. Always use the disinfecting solution advised by your eyecare professional.
  • Remember to change your case regularly in line with instructions accompanying your disinfecting solutions.
  • If wearing reusable lenses ensure you clean them properly in accordance to the manufacturer’s instructions and always store your lenses in fresh solution.

Can you wear lenses for swimming and other questions answered

Can I wear contact lenses in the shower?

Requiring less water than a bath, many contact lens wearers prefer a shower in order to clean themselves. If you wear contact lenses on a daily basis, you probably keep them in when stood underneath a shower. When wearing contact lenses whilst showering, they can be taken out. Not only does this reduce the chance of infection developing but there won’t be any concerns regarding them falling out of place. As fresh water does contain bacteria, this can infect a contact lens but there is a low chance of this happening.

If you buy daily disposable contact lenses from Vision Direct, you might prefer to keep them in whilst showering. In this situation, avoid rubbing your eyes and keep them closed at all times. As there is only a small chance of an infection happening, you can keep them in your eyes but Vision Direct do recommend that your shower is only a couple of minutes long. Before having a shower, contact lenses can also be taken out and put into solution. They can then be put back into an eye afterwards.

Can I wear contact lenses for swimming?

Swimming whilst wearing contact lenses might seem like a great idea but it can cause a number of problems. When contact lenses are worn whilst swimming in a pool or the ocean, water can splash in your eyes. If this happens, contact lenses can be dislodged and eyesight becomes blurry again. This situation is very unsettling, largely because you might believe that contact lenses have fallen behind the back of your eye. However, this is impossible because contact lenses aren’t able to.

When swimming whilst wearing contact lenses, infection can happen to a cornea. If water splashes into your eye, permanent damage can be caused. Even when a small amount of water gets near your eye, lenses can start to tighten and starve it of oxygen. There are some contact lenses that shouldn’t be worn at all when swimming, such as gas permeable (GP). Even when contact lenses are worn whilst swimming, they must be thrown away after, that’s why we recommend daily disposable lenses if you wish to swim with contact lenses in. Whenever you do wear contact lenses while swimming, we recommend wearing tight fitting goggles to avoid getting water in your eyes.

Swimming goggles can help contact lens wearers to protect their eyes. We recommend that a tight fitting pair of goggles is worn to stop fresh water in a swimming pool or salt water from touching contact lenses.

Can I wear contact lenses to sleep?

Many people like to wear contact lenses when they are awake. Others prefer to wake up with clear vision courtesy of their contact lenses. If you want to wear contact lenses at night but aren’t sure if this is possible, there are certain products which allow you to do so, with the permission of your optician.

In the USA, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved some contact lenses that can be worn throughout the day. Otherwise known as extended wear contact lenses, they are designed so that more oxygen reaches the cornea. Some can be worn for several days whereas other extended wear contact lenses are suitable for up to thirty days. Even though extended wear contact lenses can be worn for this amount of time, you might not find them entirely comfortable. Vision Direct is able to answer any queries and can even suggest particular extended wear contact lenses that can be added to your order.

Can I wear contact lenses for flying?

You’re bound to look forward to getting on a plane and contact lenses should be considered before setting off on a holiday or a short trip abroad. Contact lenses can be worn in a variety of situations. On a short haul flight that lasts for a couple of hours, the same contact lenses can be worn. However, when on a long haul flight that takes several hours, daily lenses might not be entirely appropriate because you could fall asleep. In this situation, contact lenses might not be appropriate.

When packing a suitcase, make sure that you have enough contact lenses. If you wear daily disposable contact lenses, buy enough from Vision Direct before arriving at a boarding gate. When travelling abroad for a couple of days, check that you have many replacement contact lenses in case they get damaged. Keep a pair of glasses in your hand luggage just in case.

Can I wear contact lenses for sports?

Wearing contact lenses is ideal if you play sports. When glasses are worn whilst participating in a sporting activity, they can cause injury. Whilst playing football, glasses can smash if you’re hit in the face. By wearing contact lenses, there won’t be any chance of such injury or damage happening.

Not only do wearing contact lenses whilst playing sport minimalize the likelihood of injury but you will also have a clear field of vision. Vision recommends that contact lenses are worn whilst participating in sport of any kind apart from water-based activities. When contact lenses are worn in windy conditions, they can be blown out of your eye although there is only a slight chance that this will happen. Either way, have a spare pair of contact lenses in your rucksack or kitbag.

Can I wear contact lenses with a stye?

If you have a stye, it will be very uncomfortable. As it is a type of infection, Vision Direct recommends that contact lenses aren’t worn at all until a stye has fully gone away or you have completed a course of treatment.

When contact lenses are worn if you have a stye, infection can happen to other areas of your eyes that are healthy. If you wear monthly contact lenses, infection remains on them even when rinsed in cleaning solution. When monthly contact lenses are put back into an eye, you could develop further styes. Even if you have a small stye, it can become bigger. Therefore, as soon as a stye has developed in your eye, take out contact lenses and dispose of them. By getting rid of contact lenses as soon as a stye has been detected, you’re improving the health of your eye.

Can I wear contact lenses after LASIK?

Laser eye surgery (LASIK) can improve vision beyond all recognition. If you have poor vision, LASIK can help because you’ll more than likely have crystal clear vision just days after. However, LASIK doesn’t always help and you could still have blurry vision to a certain degree. After LASIK, contact lenses can be worn to overcome this situation. When a cornea is too thin after LASIK, contact lenses can sharpen vision. As permanent damage can happen if LASIK is carried out on a thin cornea, contact lenses are entirely suitable for this situation.

Other contact lenses can be worn after LASIK, such as gas permeable (GP) contact lenses. Unlike soft lenses, gas permeable contact lenses come into closer contact with the eye where it replicates its shape. Hybrid lenses can also be worn after LASIK. Similar to soft lenses, such as daily disposables, hybrid lenses are effective in correcting aberrations that happen because of LASIK. An alternative to gas permeable lenses, hybrid lenses can be worn soon after LASIK where you will more than likely have clear vision.

There might be a small part of you that wonders whether it’s safe to wear contacts in the pool — a part that’s inevitably cast aside when you simply do it anyway. After all, what’s the point of booking a gorgeous spot for vacation if you can’t take in the sights? And if you swim more regularly, isn’t it safer to be more aware of your surroundings?

While those are valid points, it’s important to know the risks. “Swimming pools have Acanthamoeba, a type of amoeba that lives in the water, which can get trapped under contact lenses,” Arian Fartash, OD, a VSP network optometrist, told POPSUGAR. “Swimming with contacts can result in eye infections, irritation, and corneal issues.” That’s why doctors recommend against it.

However, there are steps you can take to make it safer. “If you still need to swim while wearing contact lenses, use daily disposable contacts,” Dr. Fartash said. “Be sure to also wear fitting goggles to avoid getting water in your eyes, and reduce your risk of eye irritation and infection.”


It might take some effort to find a pair that fit comfortably (if you find they run big, try goggles made for kids), but it’ll be worth to save you from an emergency visit to your eye doctor.

Image Source: Pexels / Bruce Mars

Jul 14, 2015 1:00 AM

Author: Hillary Brown

We’ve all done it. It’s too much of a hassle to take them out beforehand, and who wants to look like a total noob wearing goggles the entire time you’re in the pool?

Well, we spoke with optometrist Timothy Gibbons, OD, at University of Utah Health, and he gave us some reasons why those noobs might be on to something:

1. Swimming with contacts can result in eye infections, irritation, and potential sight-threatening conditions such as a corneal ulcer.

2. The FDA has recommended that contacts not be exposed to ANY type of water, including tap water, swimming pools, oceans, lakes, hot tubs and showers.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s fresh water or a chlorinated pool,” Gibbons said. “There are bugs and pathogens that chlorine doesn’t kill, which could potentially cause damage to the cornea, infection, or ulcers.”

3. Water is home to all sorts of viruses and microbes — one of the scariest being Acanthamoeba, which attaches to your contact, causing your cornea to become infected and inflamed and can result in permanent vision loss or require a corneal transplant.

4. Fresh water and water in swimming pools can cause soft lenses to tighten against your eye causing significant irritation.

5. Soft lenses are porous, allowing chemicals and bacteria to lodge inside the lens and press against your eye, increasing chances of infection and irritation.

Gibbons says for patients who must wear contacts while swimming, there are certain steps to take which dramatically lower the risk of infection.

“I tell all my patients to avoid wearing contacts while swimming if at all possible,” Gibbons said. “But if that’s not an option, always wear goggles, remove the contacts immediately after swimming and soak them in contact solution for 24 hours.”

Alternating between two pairs of contacts, or wearing glasses while your contact lenses soak, is the best way to ensure protection of your eyes. Allowing the lenses to be completely disinfected eliminates the risk of exposing your eyes to bacteria that could have easily been absorbed into the lenses.

On your next pool day, make sure you aren’t being careless with your eyes — you kind of need those.

Swimming With Contacts: Is it Safe?

If you don’t have 20/20 vision, contacts can make your life a lot easier. But, when it comes to swimming, things can get a bit more complicated. In fact, swimming with contacts can be dangerous.

Water is full of harmful bacteria. If that bacteria gets into your eyes, you can end up with a serious health problem. Still, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go swimming.

This article will focus on whether or not you can wear contacts in the water and why.

Can I Wear Contacts When I Swim?

As mentioned, water contains viruses and microbes that can cause serious damage. For example, the Acanthamoeba organism can fasten itself to your contact lens. This can create an infection in your cornea and promote inflammation.

People who suffer from Acanthamoeba keratitis can end up with permanent vision loss. Some even have to get a corneal transplant.

The type of contact lens you use can also make swimming difficult. Gas permeable contacts can fall off while you’re swimming. Imagine having to replace your contacts each time you go swimming. That would become quite the expensive habit. It’s a good idea to keep your prescription glasses close by.

Soft contact lenses tighten in freshwater. This can make your eyes feel uncomfortable. These lenses will absorb bacteria, chemicals, and viruses from the water. Repeat ‘Infection here I come’ ten times over. This should help you remember to keep your contacts out of the water.

What About Swimming Pools?

While pools are cleaner than ocean water, they still contain a lot of bacteria that can damage your eyes. After all, think about all the things that end up into the pool. Dirt, leaves, bugs, band-aids, all carry bacteria into the water. There are many pathogens inside of swimming pools that chlorine can’t get rid of. Even freshwater pools can contain harmful particles that may lead to eye infections.

Can I Swim with Contacts if I Wear Goggles?

If you want to swim while wearing contacts, always wear a pair of goggles. These can protect your eyes from bacteria, viruses, and microbes in the water. Goggles also prevent your contacts from falling out of place. But, make sure the goggles are high quality and waterproof. Goggles that slip off or fill with water won’t do you much good.

If you’re afraid to swim with contacts in, get prescription swimming goggles. Like glasses, these goggles have your exact prescription. Prescription goggles allow you to swim while removing most of the risk involved.

Some of these goggles even come with UV protection to keep damaging sun rays out of your eyes. And, you’ll have a clear view while underwater.

Wear Disposable Contacts

Even if you’re wearing goggles, you should avoid swimming in your normal contacts. Instead, get a pair of disposable contacts. You can take these contacts out and throw them away right after you’re done swimming. You won’t have to worry about disinfecting them. And, you’ll reduce your chances of getting an eye infection from the water.

If your contact comes out while you’re swimming, you won’t have to worry about replacing them. Manufacturers design disposable contacts to take out the cleaning and maintenance process.

Buying a few pairs of disposable contacts is also cheaper than replacing your main contacts. Still, once you leave the pool take your contacts out. Next, use rewetting drops to cleanse your eyes. Make sure you use a solution that is compatible with your contact lenses.

What if I Get Water in My Eyes When I’m Swimming

If any water gets into your eyes when you’re wearing contacts, take them out as soon as possible. The sooner you do this, the lower the risk of infection will be.

Call your doctor if you notice any irritation or sensitivity to light. These could be early signs that an infection is developing. Your doctor can examine your eyes, set a diagnosis, and prescribe the right treatment.

Can I at Least Shower With Contacts?

Not even tap water is safe! So, take your contacts out when you’re showering. While a shower might pose less of a threat than other kinds of waters, shower water can still splash into your eyes. This means bacteria can absorb through your lenses and into your cornea. It’s just not worth the risk!

If you have trouble showering without contacts, you can wear disposable contacts. But try to keep your eyes closed as much as possible and remove them as soon as you’re done.

It’s always better to shower without any kind of contacts at all. Besides, buying enough disposable contacts to use with every shower can become expensive.

Quick Tips About Water and Contacts

  • Avoid swimming with contacts whenever possible.
  • A way around this rule is to use a pair of goggles. Your contacts will stay dry and clean and infection is a lot less likely to occur.
  • If you must swim with contacts, always swim with disposable contact lenses in. Should water get into your eyes, you can simply take the contacts out and throw them away.
  • Don’t assume fresh water or pool water is safe for contacts. Every type of water carries some form of chemicals or bacteria. If these get on your contacts, they can lead to some serious eye conditions that may result in surgery or loss of vision.
  • Showering with contacts can expose your eyes to infections as well. Wear your glasses or go lens-free in your home shower.

Conclusion: Swimming with contacts is not advisable. In fact, never expose your contact lenses to any kind of water. Swimming in lakes, oceans, pools, or even sitting in a hot-tub can introduce bacterial contamination and lead to infection.

Still, water isn’t the only problem when it comes to eye health. There are a lot of other common things that people do that can actually damage your eyes. While you’re keeping your contacts out of the water, make sure you aren’t doing other things that could be harmful to your vision or your eye health.

Swimming With Contacts: The Dos and Don’ts

Are you splashing bacteria at your child? Or are they splashing it at you?

By now, you know that swimming pools aren’t as clean as we’d like to think they are. Nothing proves that more than knowing what a dirty pool can do to a healthy eye.

Want to know how to keep your eyes healthy and what you need to avoid? Read our splashingly good information below about swimming with contacts.

Chlorine and Your Eyes

Before we get into what chlorine and water can do to your contact lenses, let’s start with the basics. What does chlorine do to your eyes, with or without lenses? The answer: nothing good.

Chlorine is, in essence, bleach for water. Getting it in your eye is the equivalent of having diluted bleach splashed in there. When chlorine goes into your eyes, it actually increases the chances for bacteria to enter. You’d think that because it kills bacteria, it would be the opposite.

However, chlorine degrades what we call the “tear film”, which is what makes your eyes glossy and keeps them from being too dry. When you strip away that protective layer of moisture, germs have a direct channel to the cornea.

Common Swimming-Related Eye Issues

Now that you know how chlorine leads to infections, it’s important to note that swimming in a lake, pond or the ocean can also lead to some serious eye issues. Let’s talk about some of the common problems you could face while swimming under any conditions.

Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis

Yes, you can get pink eye from swimming in the pool. You don’t need to touch feces or an infected person. If there are traces of the bacteria on someone’s body or clothes and they get in the pool, that’s good enough.

Bacteria and viruses are good swimmers. This mobility is how infections can spread through pool water and eventually to you. The chlorine levels in the pool aren’t strong enough to kill this kind of bacteria. You can avoid getting pink eye by wearing goggles in the pool and making sure everyone rinses off before they get in.

Dry Eye or Red Irritation

When you take away that moisturizing protective layer we called the tear film, your eyes get dehydrated. The eyes need moisture to move around in their sockets and for the different parts to do their jobs. Without lubrication, things can look blurry or fuzzy.

Dry eyes are itchy, which leads people to rub them. Rubbing them is exactly what you DON’T want to do! Now, whatever bacteria was on your fingers goes directly into your unprotected eye.

To avoid getting dry eyes in the pool, protect yourself with goggles. They’ll help preserve your tear film so that your eyes stay moisturized. Also, don’t open your eyes underwater. It was a fun game as a kid to not use goggles, but you should know better now.

Acanthamoeba Keratitis

The worst out of all three, this fancy-named type of eye infection is severe. Yes, pink eye will take you out of school or work for a few days, but it isn’t inherently threatening to your well being. Acanthamoeba keratitis is.

As the name suggests, this infection involves an amoeba setting up shop in your eye. Their presence can create ulcers on your cornea and lead to lifelong vision impairment or even blindness.

This is especially common if you swim with your contacts in, which we will now explore in more detail.

Can I Go Swimming With Contacts?

The short answer is yes, you can, but you shouldn’t. Think back to the ways mentioned above of how chlorine messes with your eyes.

It strips the eye of its protective layer and makes it open to bacteria and other organisms. Now think about what contact lenses are made of: porous, soft plastic. This is the perfect place for bacteria to adhere to since they’re moist and sticky on the surface.

Your contact lenses then become a sort of band-aid for bacteria, pressing them against your already vulnerable dry eye. An infection is almost bound to happen.

So if you wear contacts and you don’t want to be blind while swimming with your eyes closed, what can you do?

Swim and Discard

If you choose to swim with your contact lenses in, make sure they’re the daily type or don’t mind throwing them away if they’re not. Maybe they’re a pair that’s near the end of their lifespan or they’re cheap backups you keep, just in case.

You don’t want to reuse the contacts that you wore in the swimming pool. Your contact solution kills germs, but it’s not all that strong. If you put pool-exposed contact lenses in the solution, the most it will do is moisturize them. Then you’re laying those pool bacteria right up against your eye the next day.

Not ideal.

Help, I Already Swam With Contacts!

If you’re reading this article because you already swam with contacts and now your eyes are telling you that you shouldn’t have, it’s going to be okay.

If you can, take out your contact lenses immediately and throw them away. Use whatever eyedrops you have on hand to help flush irritants from your eyes. This will hopefully remove the bacteria from the pool water that entered your eyes. The drops will then moisturize your eyes, recreating your tear film layer.

Before you put new contacts in, make sure your eyes aren’t still irritated. Yes, you may have to wear your glasses for the rest of the day. But if you have to put contacts in right away, wash your hands and face before you put in the new ones. It’ll stop the bacteria from getting on your new lenses.

See Your Doctor

If the symptoms of swimming with contacts persist a day or so later, make an appointment with your eye doctor. Let him or her know you’re having post-swimming irritation and how long it’s been.

Swimming is a great activity, but just like with all things, take proper precautions. That way, you can have fun without the horrible effects of an eye infection to worry about.

OVC® contact lenses for swimmers

Swimming in contact lenses can be risky but with new iGO OVC® underwater vision you can dive in, swim safely underwater and see perfectly without contact lenses or prescription swimming goggles. In fact OVC® is perfect all waterbased sports like wakeboarding, windsurfing or scuba diving.

Until recently there was no other option for swimmers other than to buy prescription goggles or risk wearing contact lenses with perhaps normal swimming goggles over the top.

Contact lenses and swimming pool water don’t mix. In fact any kind of water from hot tubs to showers or even tap water should never come into contact with contact lenses. This is because water carries microscopic amounts of tiny organisms called Acanthamoeba, a bacterium which gets trapped under contact lenses and can cause serious eye infections, even blindness.

However OVC® vision uses specially shaped overnight contact lenses which reshape the cornea to correct short-sightedness while you sleep. When the contact lenses are removed the next morning the wearer will have 20/20 natural vision. It is especially suited for swimmers or watersports enthusiasts because contact lenses or prescription goggles are not needed when swimming.

“it was wonderful to hurl myself into the ocean and not worry about contact lenses” says Patrick Barkham, The Guardian


  • Read about what happened to Jennie when she swam in her contact lenses

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Swimming with contacts in

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