How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy in the Pool or at the Beach
If you’re thinking about keeping your contact lenses in your eyes while swimming, think again. According to all eye doctors, it’s not safe to wear contacts when diving into a pool or riding the waves in the ocean. Water in all bodies of water – swimming pools, oceans, lakes and hot tubs included – is a natural breeding ground for microorganisms and bacteria.
In general, your body has a built-in eye care defense system to protect against these harmful microbes. But when you insert contact lenses, you are interfering with the natural protection in your eye. Therefore, swimming with lenses raises your risk of an eye infection and other conditions that can threaten your eyesight. To keep you informed about how to protect your vision in cool waters during the hot Burbank days, our eye doctor explains:
What’s so dangerous about water?
Your contacts are similar to little sponges that absorb all liquid. When you swim, your contact lenses soak up the surrounding water and trap it on the surface of your eye. That means all the menacing microbes are sitting on your eye in perfect position to attack your ocular health. Your natural safety feature of blinking to rinse away foreign substances with your tears doesn’t work, and the microscopic bugs are free to multiply.
One particularly dangerous organism that lives in water is the acanthamoeba, which can adhere to your contacts. Even if you clean your lenses right after swimming, it doesn’t always help, because acanthamoeba is resistant to many disinfectant solutions. If you don’t seek treatment from your eye doctor rapidly enough, severe eye infection may result, with corneal swelling and vision loss.
In addition to microorganisms, pool water also contains many chemicals (we’re sure you can smell the chlorine!) that can irritate your eyes. Also, water will wash away your moist tear film and make your contact lenses swell up, so they don’t fit comfortably on your eyes.
What about swimming with goggles and contact lenses?
Although our Burbank eye care specialists do not recommend swimming with lenses, we know that many people will insist on doing so. If you are one of those people, then waterproof goggles are a way to reduce your risk of eye irritation and infection.
Remember though, if you choose to strap on a pair of goggles, prescription swimming goggles are ideal! You won’t need contact lenses to see sharp underwater, and you’ll optimize your eye health. Ask our eye doctor about the range of specialty prescription goggles with UV protection available in our Burbank optical collection.
How else can I protect my eyes if I wear contact lenses in the water?
Again, if you insist on wearing your contacts at the beach or in the pool, here are some tips to minimize the danger to your eye health:
- Never open your eyes underwater
- Wear daily disposable contacts for swimming, since you throw them out after a single use. Remove them immediately after you come out of the water, rinse out your eyes with artificial tears and replace your lenses with a new, clean pair.
- If water drips into your eyes, remove your contacts immediately and throw them out, or disinfect them if you aren’t wearing disposables.
- Never go swimming and then doze off on the shore or poolside with your lenses still in your eyes
Ask Our Burbank Eye Doctor
Before you head to the shores or pool, consult with our local eye care specialists. We’ll help you find the safest way to have crisp vision and a great look! If you do experience irritated eyes, strange discharge, pain, sensitivity or redness after wearing your contacts while swimming, contact us immediately for an eye exam in our Burbank office.