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Can You Swim With Contacts?

It’s summertime and what better way to spend your vacation, beat the heat, have some quality time with the family and friends, and get in a healthy dose of exercise than go swimming in the pool or the sea?

But if you’re one of the millions of people who wear glasses and contact lenses, then you might be facing a bit of a dilemma. How do you enjoy swimming without compromising your vision underwater? Can you just wear your contacts or glasses? Is that safe? Today, we’ll answer all your questions.

Can you swim with contacts?

No, you cannot swim with contact lenses. This is because exposing contact lenses to water poses many risks, including eye irritation and bacterial contamination, which can then lead to various infections that can even be life-threatening. So, if you are wondering whether you can go swimming while wearing contacts, it is not recommended and should be avoided as much as possible.

Think of it this way- water, whether it’s from the pool or the ocean, or even tap water from the sink, is not as clean as we think. It often carries a certain amount of microorganisms, bacterias, and even viruses.

Besides, pool water is typically chlorinated, while seawater is, well, salty, all of which are bad for your contact lenses. But, what if you really want to swim without being practically blind? After all, wearing glasses is also not a good idea. Don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of solutions for you.

Can I swim with contacts and goggles?

Yes. A great alternative for swimming with contacts is wearing swim goggles as well, in order to protect your eyes and contact lenses from pool or ocean water and the many contaminants it carries. But, if you do go with this option, make sure that the goggles are waterproof, and adjusted in such a way that even a single drop of water won’t come through.

Another alternative to swimming with contact lenses is by using prescription goggles. That way, you can safely swim underwater without the risk. Or, if you really want to swim with contacts, then do so with disposable ones that you can throw away after use.

Now, you might be wondering, why is this such a big deal? What’s the worst that can happen if I swim while wearing my contacts? Take a look at these common eye issues that you can get from swimming, contacts or no contacts.

contact lenses with water drops

Eye issues from swimming

Irritations, infections, and life threatening conditions are only some of the many problems that anyone can experience when swimming, since pool and ocean water often contains certain irritants, bacteria, and viruses, even when the water has been treated.

If you’re really unlucky, the worst thing that can happen is Acanthamoeba Keratitis, which is a severe and life threatening condition that causes corneal ulcers, permanent loss of vision, and even death.

Pink eye

Also referred to as conjunctivitis, pink eye is a bacterial infection that you can get from swimming, where the white part of your eye becomes inflamed and therefore appears pink. It happens often, since even chlorine cannot kill the bacteria that causes this infection.

Dry eye

Chlorinated and salty water both have the capacity to dry out the tear film in our eyes, which acts as a protective layer that moisturizes the eye and keeps it from being dehydrated. Once this film dries out, the eye becomes irritated and more prone to infection.

Can you shower with contacts in?

No, you cannot wear contact lenses in the shower. Just like you can’t wear contact lenses in the pool or the sea, wearing contact lenses while showering exposes you to the same risks and issues. So, always remember to take off your contacts before hitting the shower, and store them in a cool, dry place. Besides, you can always just wear glasses.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that contacts will protect your eyes, since these are porous materials that water and harmful substances can easily pass through. Even clean and filtered water from the sink can still harm pass through your lenses and harm your eyes.

To summarize

The answer to the question, “Can you swim with contacts?” is no. You can’t and you shouldn’t. It’s the same for taking a shower while wearing your contact lenses. Water and contact lenses simply don’t go well together.

Getting your contact lenses wet under any circumstance is always a bad idea, whether you are showering or taking a dip in the pool or the open ocean. It opens you up to many risks, and it’s just not worth it.

The good thing is, there are other alternatives, such as wearing waterproof swim goggles, prescription goggles, or disposable contacts, although that’s not ideal. If you do wear contacts while swimming, make sure to apply eye drops immediately and see your doctor if any problems arise.