Can I swim with contact lenses?

A common sense approach to wearing contacts and swimming.

It depends who you are. If you’re one to abide by all the rules no matter what, then no. But lets face it most of us aren’t, and we can (and do) swim with contact lenses, and probably could for our whole life and not get any bad effects from it.

The Bad Stuff

Here’s the deal; contact lenses sit on the surface of your eye and due to the nature of most contacts, they can absorb water and therefore other nasty things too. It’s when this bad stuff gets into the lens that your eye comes in contact with it and can get infected (not ideal). It is recommended that contacts do not come in contact (no pun intended) with anything other than solution. This means that it probably isn’t a good idea to wash them in normal tap water because they could adsorb some bad stuff from the non-sterile water too. It’s the same in the pool or any water you swim in. There might be bacteria that is harmful and can do damage if it gets into your eye.

Not only can the water cause irritation and infection, but quite practically the contact lens may actually get washed out of your eye. Believe me, if this happens , the chances of you finding your contact lens again would be like searching for the letter ‘e’ in the novel Gadsby [it’s a 50,000 word novel and none of them have the letter ‘e’ written by Ernest Wright ].

Solutions to avoid this;

Now our obligation to you is to make you ‘Enjoy Life’. Getting irritated eyes or losing your contacts certainly doesn’t fit with our slogan so keep reading for some pretty logical tips.

If you’re one for common sense, you have probably already thought of a couple of ways that you can get around the problem at hand, but let me explain anyway. Goggles. Anybody who is into swimming for fitness (i.e. doing lengths of a pool Freestyle) will have pair so you’re not going to look out of place in the public pool. They’re a pretty effective option as their job is keep water away from the eyes.  However if you’re in the waves at the beach, wearing goggles probably isn’t going to cut it. If you’re into snorkeling, the same logic applies. You’re wearing a mask anyway so water can’t get to you eyes.

OK that’s all good if you’re into swimming for fitness or snorkeling, but what about when you’re just chillin’ in the waves or in the pool? Yeh, you know right? Just close your eyes when you go under… pretty simple.

The of type of lens you wear can help too..

Then again though, if you’re wearing daily disposables, just chuck your lenses out after you’ve been swimming, then if they’ve got bacteria absorbed in them it can’t get to your eyes. If you’re not wearing daily disposables, my advise is to take your lenses out pretty soon after your swim and give them a good clean in solution. Then put some drops in your eyes just to try and avoid any infection.

If you’ve tried all of these things though and your eyes still seem to get irritated, just take your lenses out while you go swimming. With any luck you’ll still be able to see pretty well and you can rest assured your lenses aren’t gonna get washed out of your eye when you ‘bomb’ from the wharf.

So to wrap up, I’d say above all, use your common sense. This might not be what the ‘professional’ optometrists say, but hey, at least it gives you a bit more freedom to do what you feel like and Enjoy Life.


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