Should I be swimming in my contact lenses?

Should I be swimming in my contact lenses?

Over the summer months, many of our patients go on vacation and enjoy the outdoors, including water sports.  A common question that patients ask in the exam room is “Should I be swimming in my contact lenses?”  I recommend patients to REMOVE their contact lenses and wear prescription goggles before swimming and during other water activities because there is an increased risk of a serious complication called Acanthamoeba keratitis.  This is a rare but potentially blinding disease associated with contact lens wearers (accounts for 85{4422c3e9d6d956ffe17c4a9703f8867adf328a271a08c00de098d82d34d0cfb5} of cases in the US).  Acanthamoeba is a free-living single-celled organism living in our environment.  They can usually be found in non-sterile water (lakes, oceans, tap water, pools/hot tubs) and soil.  These organisms infect compromised corneas and cause severe damage to the corneal tissue.

For those who continue to wear contact lenses in the water, here are some tips to decrease your risk of infection:
1.  Wear daily disposable contact lenses for water activities, preferably with goggles (at Avenue Eyecare, we have astigmatism and multifocal daily disposables too!)
2.  Never nap or sleep in lenses that have been in non-sterile water
3.  Remove contact lenses and disinfect immediately after swimming
4.  Consider corneal reshaping therapy if you swim very often 
5.  Make sure you see an optometrist/ophthalmologist for routine eyecare
6.  Adhere to the contact lens regimen prescribed by your eye doctor (cleaning and disposal schedule) 

I hope theses tips are helpful.  Enjoy the rest of your summer and be safe!

Dr. Jessica Chang drchang@avenueeyecare.com
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