Swimming and eye safety

2nd July 2022

Swimmer wearing goggles

With summer holidays in full swing, swimming is a great form of exercise and fun for kids and adults however if you are a contact lens wearer you need to take precautions to ensure you protect your eyes from possible contaminants that could cause an eye infection.

Contact lens wearers are at far greater risk of swimming-related eye infections as bacteria can get trapped under contact lenses.  Wearing contact lenses in any type of water puts you at greater risk for a corneal infection that can lead to painful infection, corneal damage and even loss of vision.

It’s safer not to swim in contact lenses at all.  Our advice is to remove your contact lenses altogether and wear a pair of well-fitted prescription swimming goggles to help keep your vision clear.  A well-sealed pair of swimming goggles will help to protect the eyes from bacteria and minimise the risk.

However, if you really have to wear contact lenses for swimming, what are your options? The British Contact Lens Association current advice from their website is “not to wear contact lenses for swimming – or in hot tubs or whilst showering or participating in water sports – unless wearing tight-fitting goggles over the top.  After swimming – or if lenses are removed and stored whilst swimming – contact lenses should be cleaned and disinfected in fresh solution before putting them back on the eyes. The BCLA recommendation is that regular swimmers talk to their eyecare practitioner about being fitted with daily disposable lenses for use with goggles whilst swimming.  Wearers of daily disposable contact lenses should always discard them immediately after swimming.”

The BCLA have some useful tips about contact lenses and it is well worth paying a visit to their website.

If you want to know more about prescription swimming goggles then have a chat with one of our Dispensing Opticians who will be able to provide you with information on the different prescriptions available.  Alternatively, if you are short-sighted, you may be interested in Ortho-K rigid contact lenses worn overnight that gently re-shapes the eye and removed on waking so that you don’t need glasses or contact lenses during the day.  Our Optometrists can advise if your prescription is suitable for Ortho-K lens wear.

The Gordon Turner Optometrists Team