Is Swimming in Contact Lenses Bad for You?

We would recommend that no contact lens of any type should be exposed to any kind of water including tap, showers, swimming pools or sea water. It is not unusual for water to contain viruses, bacteria or various organisms which could attach to your contact lens resulting in eye infections, irritations and in the worst cases sight threatening conditions.

Acanthamoeba is one of the most serious organisms which can be found in tap water or swimming pools and if you have a small abrasion or scratch on your eye it could lead to permanent vision loss.

If you do get water on your lenses when swimming then remove them immediately after leaving the pool and disinfect as soon as possible following the instructions given to you by your optometrist or contact lens fitter. Even better, use daily disposable lenses and bin them after your swim session. If you are using monthly lenses, make sure your replacements are up to date and don’t forget to replace you case which can harbour germs regularly too.

Soft lenses mould round the cornea, and although they may remain in place while in the water, they act like a sponge soaking up all the chemicals and bacteria in the water. Rigid gas permeable lenses (GP’s) cannot be used in water as it is surface tension that holds them in place, and although they will not absorb chemicals, they will just float off the cornea.

Always see an optometrist if you experience any prolonged irritation or redness of your eye, light sensitivity or visual distortion after swimming.

A better alternative to swimming with contact lenses would be prescription goggles which are inexpensive starting at around £20 a pair.

If you do have any concerns or questions, feel free to email us at [email protected] or give us a call on 0141 332 8444(Glasgow) or 01475 673985 (Largs).