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Can I swim in my contacts?

Can I swim in my contacts? With summer upon us, everyone is thinking about fun in the sun. Although it is ideal not to swim in contacts, I know that it is impractical not to do so. The risk of bad things happening are real. Listen to the facts and decide for yourself if the risk is worth taking. Water, even chlorinated water contains harmful bugs.  If you are wearing your contacts, swim goggles would be a step in the right direction.  A step in a better direction would be daily disposables, which are thrown out after a day of swimming.

A very common parasite know as Acanthamoeba has been linked to numerous contact lens related eye infections. Get a little bit of water in your eye, and you are at risk for this “little nasty” taking residence in your contact lens. Your contact lens is a great place for that bug to thrive and replicate to enourmous quantities. Not a big deal if it was content with just being on the contact. However, Acanthamoeba also recognizes that your eye is a great spot to live as well. This bug is devastating, and will burrow deep into your cornea, destroying tissue as it goes. Many people suffer blindness that is only remedied with a corneal transplant. That means you lose your own cornea and have to rely on a “donor” cornea. Sounds fun? This infection is on the rise. Read more here http://tinyurl.com/3matvl or watch the video here http://video.nbc10.com/player/?id=262700 .

What makes things worse is that this bug can make it past the disinfection process. Bad news for us. The disinfection solutions that many of us use, may not be eliminating this harmful pathogen from our contacts and our contact lens cases. Pretty scary info to hear. The good news is that you can minimize this risk by tossing out your contacts everyday. Personally, I feel the risk of an infection occurring from a contaminated daily disposable that is thrown out at the end of the day is acceptable. I wear my contacts to the beach and throw them out at the end of the day. I have yet to read or hear about an infection occurring in similar situations. Nearly everyone can wear a daily disposable, there are very few of you that could not, so it would be a great contact to use on days involving water. Even if you have to sacrifice some vision temporarily by not having the perfect prescription, it still beats sacrificing your vision permanently! Go get fit for some daily disposables and worry about a sunburn instead of a serious eye infection!

Park Slope Eye is located in Brooklyn, NY.  For more info contact Justin Bazan, OD, the optometrist of Park Slope Eye, at Dr.Bazan@ParkSlopeEye.com or visit www.ParkSlopeEye.com Also, check us out on Yelp!, Twitter and FaceBook.

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2 responses

  1. Pingback: Can I swim in my contacts? · Contact Lenses

  2. i actually did some research on this a few months ago out of curiosity. right now i’m not sitting at the computer where i have all the data & links, etc saved–maybe i’ll come back and post that stuff later. but what i learned from my reading was that when you swim in your contacts…you are STILL STATISTICALLY MORE LIKELY TO BE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING than you are to come down with and acanthamoeba corneal infection. even during the height of the renu-with-moistureloc scare that stat was still true. interesting right? if you dont swim in your contacts, the risk is zero. but if you do swim in contacts, the risk is still pretty low. admittedly much greater than NOTHING, but like i said above, still less than being struck by lightning. the stats dont distinguish between the risk of daily wear vs extended wear, daily disposables vs 2 week disposables vs non-disposables vs gas perms, swimming in lakes vs swimming in pools, etc etc. it was just swimming in ANY contact lens in any water. i agree with you, tho–it is probably safer IMO to swim in daily disposables than in any other modality. interesting stuff! i read your blog all the time–keep up the good work! -dr p

    06/14/2008 at 1:50 PM

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