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Swimming With CLs

With days of sunshine and with the holidays coming up, we are making our way to the beach and swimming pools a lot more. One question, the optometrists at our practice always get asked during this time is “Can I swim with my contact lenses?” The short answer is NO.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) and the U.S. FDA recommend that you avoid going into water while you’re wearing contact lenses. This includes lakes, the ocean, swimming pools, hot tubs, and even showers.

Why? The water may contain many unseen threats to your eyes. Your contact lenses might trap some of these microorganisms, resulting in harmful after effects (read nasty infections).

One of these threats is Acanthamoeba keratitis (eh-can-tha-mee-bah kehr ah tie-tus). Acanthamoeba species are ubiquitous microscopic organisms found in the soil and lake water. “Keratitis” refers to an inflammation of the cornea. Although it is rare for acanthamoeba to infect your eyes but once it does, you can potentially lose that eye.

Symptoms listed by the AOA include:

  • A red, painful eye infection
  • Blurred vision with a foreign body sensation, tearing, and a sensitivity to light
  • An usually long period of red, irritated eyes—even after removing your contacts

Don’t risk it. Remove your contact lenses before swimming to prevent any nasty infections and to continue enjoying those warm summer days.

A great alternative is to invest in a pair of prescription swimming goggles.

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