Swimming in Contacts

by Jackie Tennant
(Lincoln, England)

Is it safe to swim in contact lenses? If I open my eyes under water, what happens - will the contact lens fall out and will the water irritate my eyes?

I don't like wearing swimming goggles as they leave horrible circles under my eyes so I look like a panda, so I prefer to keep my eyes open under the water but not sure what happens with my contacts if I do.

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Aug 16, 2011
Wearing contact lenses in water
by: Helen

The best advice I can give you is to wear swimming goggles when swimming while wearing contact lenses.

If you normally swim with your head above the water, there is less risk of water getting in your eyes, but splashes of water may get onto the lenses and this could irritate them.

You should always wear goggles if swimming with your head UNDER water. Your lenses could become dislodged if your open your eyes under the water and, more importantly, you could develop a serious eye infection if bacteria in the water gets into your eye and under the contact lens.

There is less risk if you swim in a chlorinated pool, but chemicals in the water could still irritate your eyes. Likewise the ocean is less risky than a lake or river where stagnant water is more likely to house bacteria.

See my page on swimming in contact lenses for more advice, including the best type of lenses to wear when doing watersports like water skiing, sports where it often is more distracting to wear protective goggles.

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