Summer is here, and with the heat of the season, folks are headed for pools and lakes for a refreshing swim. Certainly while swimming, you’ll want to see great, and if you’re a contact lens wearer, you should be cautious not to wear your contact lenses without goggles.
The best way to think about a contact lens is to consider it a thin silicone sponge. The porous nature of the contact lens allows for good oxygen exchange to the cornea, though this property also makes contact lenses absorb the surrounding pool or lake water. This water is loaded with bacterial and single-celled animal life. The most concerning form of contamination is from amoebas, which can wriggle their way into the matrix of the contact lens, and remain there, pressed against your cornea and waiting to cause an infection. Even our favorite contact lens solutions such as Bausch and Lomb’s Bio Tears™, and Optifree Replenish by Alcon™ are not capable of killing these organisms. Because an amoebic infection is sight-threatening, our eye doctors strongly advise against wearing contact lenses in swimming pools, unless you have water-tight goggles that will keep pool water from reaching your eyes.
Besides the risk of infection, contact lenses tend to float away from your eyes in pool water. Contact lenses adhere to your eyes via the water tension in your tears. Place water on both sides of the lens (i.e., your natural tears on one side and pool water on the other) and the contact lens will float away. Chlorine also gets pulled into the contact lens, which can severely irritate your eyes. Bottom line: if you’re going to go swimming this summer, take your contact lenses out! Daily disposable lenses are a great option for the active person on the run. Be sure to ask about them at your annual eye check-up and contact lens fitting!
If your glasses or contact lens prescription is high enough that you need to wear correction when swimming, then you should consider a pair of prescription swim goggles. Goggles are available at Vista Eye Care in Thornton, Colorado for very reasonable cost because they ship to us with pre-fabricated lenses with your approximate power. If you have a mild to moderate amount of astigmatism, you will probably be able to see quite well with your goggles, and all without having to fuss with custom-ground glasses lenses from our optical lab.
Our optometrists have fit many of our patients in contact lenses that offer ultraviolet (UV) protection from the sun. This is an important step in preventing UV-caused cataracts and macular degeneration. If you’re going to take your contact lenses out while hanging out in the sun, be sure to wear sunglasses that will protect your eyes.
Call our office today to schedule your yearly eye check-up, or just swing by to see what swim goggles we have to offer you!