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Swimming and Contact Lenses: A BAD COMBINATION

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Taking proper care of your contact lenses is critical to staying free of eye infections. As part of a proper maintenance regimen, avoid exposing your contacts to water. That includes tap water, well water, showers, hot tubs, and any water you might swim in. 
Contacts are like sponges, soaking up any chemicals or bacteria contained in the water they are exposed to. They can also trap bacteria between the lens and the surface of the eye.

One type of bacteria found in water (even chlorinated water) that can be a menace to eyes is Acanthamoeba. Acanthamoeba can cause painful corneal infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 85 percent of cases involve contact lens wearers. Besides pain, symptoms include redness, blurred vision, light sensitivity, a burning/itching sensation, and excessive tearing. Acanthamoeba keratitis is sight threatening and may necessitate a corneal transplant if not diagnosed and treated promptly.

Never clean your contact lenses with tap water or homemade solutions, and never wear contacts while showering or swimming. If you absolutely need the vision correction that contacts provide while swimming, also wear a pair of airtight swimming goggles to create a barrier.

Changes in your eyes or vision warrant a call to our office. Don’t take chances with your sight.


Written by Dr. Michael Duong

Dr. Duong received his bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in chemistry at San Jose State University. He then attended Pennsylvania College of Optometry and received his Doctor of Optometry in 2009.
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