Contact Lenses for Swimming

Contact lenses for swimming can be risky. Your soft contact lenses are made of a percentage of water ranging from 40-70 percent depending on the type. This means that they need to remain hydrated to stay soft, maintain their shape and function. The tears in your eyes contribute to this hydration in the contact lenses, when in your eyes.

Contact lenses and swimming

Over night vision correction is also know as orthokeratology. These contact lenses reshape your eyes to correct your vision without surgery. You simply insert the specially designed lenses in your eyes every night and remove them in the morning.

When you remove your lenses they need to keep hydrated from the solution you store them in, if they are bi-weekly or monthly lenses. If you bring them near any other water source, they will absorb that liquid into the lens matrix.

Water is not pure H²O, it has a composition made up of different trace minerals found naturally, but also the additions at the water plants of fluoride and chlorine. On top of all this are found the natural organisms ; bacteria, fungi, protozoa. These organisms are also able to travel into your contact lenses from only momentary contact with water.

Moving on to swimming pool water which has been further treated with higher levels of chlorine, protozoa are still able to tolerate and survive. Examples of such organisms is Acanthoemeba. This is a free living protozoan found in your tap water, garden soil and pools/spas. It exists in a trophozoite form and cyst form, the cysts being resistant to disinfection with chlorine.

Using daily disposable contact lenses for your swimming session and throwing them out after is high risk. You are playing Russian roulette with your eyes. I have personally seen patients who went swimming with contact lenses in the morning and by the evening they ended up in A&E with a Central corneal ulcer that left a permanent scar in the line of sight and permanently reduced vision.

Wearing daily disposable contact lenses with swimming goggles on top seems like a less risky proposition but unless you can guarantee your goggles do not move and let some water through, this is just as risky. And having tight goggles strangling your head isn’t worth the headache.

Contact lenses while swimming are clearly not a good idea. But wearing contact lenses overnight to correct your vision allows you to swim in a pool or the sea without worrying about the risk of infection. Contact us or request an appointment using the link below.

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