Summer is here and many of us like to enjoy time at the pool soaking up the sun and splashing in the water. But, if you wear contact lenses while in the pool, it may not be the safest place for your eyes. The FDA recommends that contact lenses not be exposed to any kind of water. This means tap water, water in the shower, lake water, the ocean, hot tubs and the pool.
Water can contain many viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms that can infect the eye and cause infections. One such organism is Acanthameoba. Acanthamoeba infection is often associated with contact lens wear while swimming. Acanthamoeba can infect the cornea and cause permanent vision loss and may require a corneal transplant. If your contact lenses are exposed to any kind of water it is best to remove them, clean and disinfect them as soon as possible with an approved contact lens solution recommended by your doctor.
Another alternative to contact lenses is prescription swim goggles. There are actually some brands of swim goggles that come in in common ready-made glasses powers. These usually do not correct for any astigmatism, but they are quite affordable. If you still choose to swim in your contact lenses, daily disposable lenses are the safest option because they are thrown away after one use. Waterproof goggles over your contact lenses is another option that would be safest when combined with the daily disposable contact lens modality.
A more permanent solution to contact lens wear or prescription swim goggles is laser vision correction, also known as LASIK or PRK. These procedures use a laser to correct the curvature of the corneal surface so that light is focused precisely on the retina. This provides clear vision free of glasses or contact lenses. Laser vision correction is a popular alternative for people with active lifestyles where glasses or contact lenses are not ideal.