Can I Swim with my Contact Lenses?

Lauren Tackett, OD 2 Comments

We are often asked this question…

Can I Swim with my Contact Lenses?

The FDA recommends never exposing your contact lenses to any kind of water, including tap water, swimming pools, lakes, oceans or hot tubs.

If water gets in your eyes when swimming, you should remove and throw away your contact lenses as soon as possible to lower your risk of eye infection.

At Primary Eyecare Center, we offer prescription swim goggles and other protective Rx-able sports eyewear. The safest option is to swim with prescription goggles. This is the least risky option. If you decide to swim with contact lenses, daily disposables are the safest way to go. These lenses are the most hygienic form of contact lens wear available. They are worn and thrown away at the end of the day. It is best to throw these contacts away as soon as you get out of the swimming pool to minimize your risk since they soak up chemicals and possibly micro-organisms in the water. Leaving the contacts on after swimming is very risky. You should never swim with your eyes open in the water, especially while wearing your contact lenses.

Rigid gas permeable contacts (RGPs) should never be worn while swimming. They are more likely to pop out of the eyes while swimming. Soft contact lenses often remain on your eye when swimming, however, they will easily absorb chlorine or bacteria, which can increase your risk of eye problems, including infection. Chlorine also causes punctate keratitis (cell death of the surface cells of the cornea). This can predispose the cornea to infection by bacteria or other parasites present in the water or on your contact lenses.

See an optometrist immediately if you experience lasting redness, eye irritation or sensitivity to light after swimming in the water.

2 Responses to Can I Swim with my Contact Lenses?

  1. April Cook

    My sister is switching from glasses to contacts this summer, and we were wondering about swimming with them. It’s good to know that she should take them out before she jumps in the pool! Do you need to clean your eyes after swimming before you put contacts back in? Thanks for the information!

     
    • Lauren Tackett

      Hi April,

      No, she does not have to clean her eyes when after she gets out of the pool. But, it would be beneficial to wait awhile after being in the water before putting contacts back on, especially if she opens her eyes under water. The chlorine can cause pitting of the cornea and irritation if you open your eyes under water.

       

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