Column: Can I swim with contacts?
Commentary by Tammy Wittmann
This month’s Q and A with Dr. Tammy Wittmann, OD is about a topic many contact-wearers consider: swimming.
Q: My optometrist told me not to shower or swim in my contact lenses, but I have friends who do it and never have a problem. Do I really need to take them out when I swim or shower?
Kara R., Westfield, Ind.
A: Kara, great question. Your optometrist is 100 percent correct. You should never swim or shower in your soft contact lenses. Soft contact lenses are a very porous material. Think of them as very tiny sponges. They soak up everything they come in contact with.
Our tap water, lake water, pool water and other similar bodies of water contain chemicals and bacteria that are harmful to our eyes. When we are not wearing contacts, we just blink that water out of our eyes. But when we are wearing contact lenses, our lenses soak up all of those chemicals and bacteria and hold them on the cornea causing infections and irritation.
Some bacteria can actually cause blindness within 24 hours.
So listen to your optometrist. Do not swim or shower in your contact lenses.
Also, clean and discard them as they have taught you as well. But that is a discussion for another day.