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Eye Wonder: Can I swim in my contact lenses?

Summer is here and the pools are open! Maybe you are wondering how well contact lenses and swimming pools mix. Different doctors will have different opinions, of course, and you should always follow your eye doctor’s recommendation. The following is my opinion.

Basically, this is a two-part question:

  1. Will my lenses fall out at the pool? Generally, no, if you wear soft contacts, especially if you wear goggles when swimming under water.
  2. Is it safe to wear lenses while swimming? Swimming can expose you to a smorgasbord of bacteria and other nasty microscopic critters, even in the most well-maintained pool. Wearing contact lenses increases your risk of an eye infection. I recommend not wearing lenses to the pool if you can function well without correction. However, if you do choose to wear lenses to the pool or waterpark, always remove the lenses after swimming and clean the lenses with your multipurpose solution, including rubbing the lenses with your fingers. NEVER sleep in your contacts after swimming with the lenses. I like to offer my patients the option of having daily disposable, or single-use lenses. Even if they ordinarily wear another type of lens, this is a great idea for those who frequent the pool in the summer.  I do highly discourage wearing contact lenses when swimming in lakes, creeks, or hot tubs.

Of course, if you experience redness, irritation, pain, and/or discharge from your eyes after swimming, always remove your contact lenses and visit your eyecare professional.

-Dr. Rachel Merriman