This summer when it’s hot outside and you have the opportunity to jump into a nice cool pool, it may be tempting to do so without taking out your contact lenses. That process can be a bit of a pain and you may think that it’s no big deal if your contacts get some water on them. However, it is highly recommended that you remove your contacts before going for a dip in the water – this includes pools, hot tubs, lakes, and oceans. There are a variety of reasons for this.
Microbes and Bacteria
Water everywhere contains thousands of viruses and bacteria that can be harmful to your system. One dangerous organism known as Ancanthamoeba can cause your cornea to become infected if it comes in contact with your lenses. In severe cases, this can lead to permanent loss of vision or require surgery to fix your cornea, including a potential cornea implant.
This is just one kind of dangerous bacteria that can be made worse by contact lenses. If you don’t wear your contacts, your body generally has a way of flushing these bacteria out. However, as they become attached to your contacts, the bacteria have the opportunity to grow and become more likely to infect you.
Water can cause contact lenses to swell or dislodge, causing discomfort in your eyes. It may also wash away your natural tear film which will cause your eyes to feel dry and irritated as they lose their natural lubricating properties. As your eyes become drier, you will find it more and more irritating to put in your contact lenses in the future, especially if they fall out while you are in the pool.
Potential loss of contacts
Due to the dislodging that takes place in the water, you put yourself at risk of losing your contacts if you swim with them in. This may not be as big of a deal if you wear daily disposable contacts, but it can be expensive and frustrating if you have permanent contacts.
What to do if you accidentally wear contacts in the pool?
If you forget to take your contacts out when you go swimming, it’s important to remove them and clean them as soon as possible. Make sure to disinfect them with your solution and allow them to dry thoroughly before wearing them again. If you wear daily contacts, throw out the pair that was exposed to water and put in a new pair.
You also need to take care of your eyes, so rinse them out with rewetting drops or artificial tears. This will re-lubricate your eyes and help ensure that you don’t suffer from dryness as the day goes on. If you have any long-lasting issues after swimming, make an appointment with St. Lucy’s Vision Center as soon as possible.
If you must wear your contacts while swimming, be sure to find a pair of airtight, waterproof goggles. These will protect your eyes from chemicals and bacteria in the water and help keep your contacts from falling out or dislodging.