I’ve been wearing contact lenses for over 10 years. Just like any lens wearers, I wondered whether I could keep my contacts on while swimming or doing water activities.
After hours of research and a visit to my eye doctor, the answer came quickly: No. As simple as that.
Alright, if I need to remove my contact lenses while swimming, is there an alternative product I could use? That was the next question I asked.
The answer came as quickly as the first one. No, there are no special contact lenses that one can use while swimming.
Do they make waterproof contacts?
There are no waterproof contacts available on the market. If you wear contact lenses, you should always remove them before swimming to avoid bad eye infections and possible blindness. The solution is to wear overnight contact lenses to temporarily reshape your cornea while you sleep.
This will help you temporarily correct short-sightedness. You’ll have 20/20 natural vision in the morning. You can then go swimming without your contacts and still see things clearly.
Contact lenses need to be porous so as to let air pass through and reach the eye. Waterproof contacts would not let oxygen reach your eyes.
I highlighted the information above because it’s eye saving – literally. I’ll explain you why.
Contact lenses and water
The biggest problem with wearing contacts and swimming, or taking a shower for that matter, is that the lenses will absorb bacteria and chemicals from the water. Pool and tap water is chemically treated. Lake, sea and ocean water is full of micro-organisms.
All the bacteria and chemicals will then remain in contact with your eyes as long as you keep your lenses. Apart from minor or mild discomfort sensations, bacteria and chemical contamination may lead to severe eye infection and, in the worst case scenario, even blindness.
Soft contact lenses have a high risk of eye irritation and infection. They are porous and quickly absorb all the chemicals and bacteria from water.
The most common bacterium found in water is called Acanthamoeba. You really don’t want it to get trapped under contact lenses and it has been recorded to cause blindness.
Once again, you should not expose your contact lenses to any type of water. This includes tap water, lake, sea or ocean water, hot tub water and so on.
What to do if water gets in your eyes while wearing lenses
If water gets in your eyes when swimming, you should remove, clean and disinfect your contact lenses as soon as possible to reduce risk of eye irritation and infection. Then rinse your eyes with artificial tears.
If you’re experiencing eye discomfort after you you accidentally took a shower with your lenses on or you forgot to remove your contacts before swimming, visit your eye doctor as soon as possible.
Prevention is always better than cure. Have your eyes checked by your eye doctor even if you’re not experiencing any discomfort or irritation.
Now that we’ve seen there are no waterproof lenses available on the market and why you should remove your contacts before swimming or taking a shower, let’s see what you can do if you want to enjoy 20-20 vision while swimming.
Alternatives to waterproof contact lenses
Use prescription swimming goggles
Since waterproof lenses don’t exist, prescription swimming goggles are actually a good alternative. When swimming, I sometimes use my prescription goggles and this allows me to clearly see underwater.
But I did notice these special swimming googles get foggy quicker than regular swimming glasses.
Use overnight lenses
Wearing overnight contact lenses allows you to see clearly the following day. All you need to do is remove your lenses when you wake up and you’ll enjoy 20-20 vision the whole day.
This is my go-to solution for swimming or when I go kite-surfing. These lenses work by reshaping the cornea so as to correct short-sightedness. All this is done while you sleep.
Of course, always check with your eye doctor before buying overnight lenses.
Waterproof contact lenses do not exist. But there are two excellent alternatives you can use to enjoy clear vision when swimming. You can either use prescription swimming goggles or wear overnight lenses and enjoy 20/20 vision in the morning.
Which one do you prefer? Let me know in the comments below.
- 5 things you shouldn’t do while wearing your contact lenses on the beach, Lentiamo.
- OVC contact lenses for swimmers, IGoLenses.
- Don’t Do These 11 Things If You Wear Daily Disposable Contacts, LookOptical.
Last updated in October 2021 to add additional information.