If you wear contact lenses, you may feel like you need them to see well while swimming. Although being able to see properly may keep you from bumping into walls, wearing contacts while swimming can be dangerous in a number of ways.
In fact, getting your contacts wet with any sort of water — whether it’s in the pool, a lake, or the shower, can raise your risk of several types of eye issues.
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Here’s a look at the risks of swimming while wearing contact lenses, and the steps you can take to protect your eyes while you’re in the water.
Although exposure to any type of water isn’t advised for contact lenses, swimming while wearing your contacts can be particularly dangerous due to the prolonged exposure. The lenses can absorb the water, trapping potential bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens against your eye.
Additionally, swimming in lakes, rivers, and oceans may be more dangerous than swimming in a pool. That’s because natural bodies of water are more likely to contain different types of bacteria, viruses, and other harmful pathogens that may be killed by pool chemicals.
But that doesn’t mean that swimming in a pool while wearing your contact lenses is safe. Chlorine and other pool chemicals can’t kill all pathogens. Soft lenses in particular are porous, so pathogens and pool chemicals can still get into your eyes.
Wearing your contact lenses while swimming may raise your risk of the following eye issues:
- eye irritation due to lenses sticking to your eyes
- dry eye syndrome, especially when swimming in a chlorinated pool or salt water
- eye infections
- corneal abrasion or scratch
- eye inflammation (uveitis)
- corneal ulcers