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Few contact lens wearers are going to want to give their lenses up during the summer, and wear glasses instead. Yet it's important to realize that contact lenses require a lot more care during those hot months — particularly if you love to go swimming. In this article, we'll explore contact lens safety while swimming, and look at other potential hazards contact lens wearers may encounter during the summer.
Swimming With Contacts — What Precautions Should You Take?
Four years ago, I finally switched to contact lenses after wearing glasses since my early teens. The experience was liberating. I could finally see all around me, and not just straight ahead. My vision was clearer with lenses than it ever was with glasses, and I thought I looked much nicer too.
Though contact lenses are liberating to most people with vision problems, they also have limitations and come with certain responsibilities. Contact lenses are not suitable for every situation. Jennie Hurst from England found this out the hard way when she contracted a bacterial infection after going swimming. Last year, she was all over the British news after she went blind in one eye. The irony? Hurst always took meticulous care of her contact lenses and eyes. She just never knew that swimming might put her at risk, until it was too late.
Hurst fell victim to the Acanthamoeba organism, a microbe that can attach to contact lenses and lead to an inflammation and infection of the cornea. This condition is known as Acanthamoeba keratitis, and it can lead to permanent damage and even blindness, as happened to Hurst. It is specifically associated with wearing lenses while swimming, but is far from the only hazard you may encounter.
Everyone who has worn glasses knows that they are quite irritating when you go for a swim. Water droplets get onto the lenses, making it hard to see, and they can fall off too. Going swimming without either lenses or glasses isn't very appealing to those with bad eyesight either. You want to be able to see while you swim, after all. What can you do to stay safe while still enjoying yourself, then?
Maximizing Your Safety While Swimming With Lenses
Do you wear soft contacts? Wearing goggles while you go swimming is the obvious answer for those who want to maximize their safety, comfort, and eyesight. They'll enable you to open your eyes under water without being worried, and prevent water from splashing into your eyes even if you don't want to dive.
Those who do want to take the risk of going swimming with soft contacts without goggles can still take some steps to be safer. Take your contact lens fluid with you, and clean your lenses if any water gets into your eyes. Better still, purchase daily lenses that you can discard after you are done swimming, so that any micro-organisms that attached to the lenses don't come anywhere near your eyes again. Soft lenses can be dried out by fresh water as well, so wearing daily disposable lenses additionally means you don't cut the lifespan contacts that were meant for longer-term usage short.
Rigid gas permeable contact lenses are more likely to come out of your eye while you are swimming, so avoid swimming with them altogether if you don't want your lenses to get lost.