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Contact Lenses and Water
Medically reviewed by Alastair Lockwood on 08 March 2021
Can you clean contact lenses with water?
You should never store your contact lenses in water. They should always be stored in contact lens solution. Although drinking water may seem like a safe option, it is not sterile and has bacteria within it that grow and quickly multiply. If you get any kind of non-sterile water on your lenses (distilled, tap or otherwise), then you risk introducing bacteria to the eye area and developing an eye infection. These infections can cause vision loss or blindness.
Even washing your hands and not drying them properly can transfer water to your lenses, risking an infection such as Pseudomonas or Acanthamoeba Keratitis. Water can also cause your contact lenses to change shape which can then cause a lot of discomfort. We go into a bit more detail below as to why water can be so harmful to contact lens wearers.
Can you swim with contacts in?
It’s best to avoid swimming with contact lenses in. If you do, you should wear disposable lenses with goggles that are waterproof. There’s also the option of wearing prescription goggles, if you’d rather not wear contact lenses at all. Prescription goggles have spherical lenses in difference strengths. These won’t be exactly the same as your usual prescription, but for the purposes of swimming it will be close enough to be effective.
Can you swim with contact lenses and goggles?
Yes, although it’s always best to take your lenses out before swimming if you can. If you do wear them, make sure to use daily disposable lenses and wear waterproof goggles with them. As an alternative to contacts and goggles, you could wear prescription goggles.
Will contacts fall out while swimming?
If you open your eyes while underwater, it’s likely your contact lenses to fall out of your eyes. If you choose to wear contact lenses while swimming, ensure you also wear waterproof goggles with them.
Can I wear contact lenses in the sea?
Just as swimming in a pool with contact lenses isn’t advised, going in the sea wearing them also isn’t a good idea, unless you plan to wear goggles too. The sea is chaotic and unpredictable, you could easily be splashed by a wave and the sea water could get into your eyes. If you do swim in the sea you should either wear prescription glasses, lenses with waterproof goggles, or prescription goggles alone.
Can you cry with contact lenses in?
Crying with contact lenses in is perfectly safe. You may notice clouded vision while crying but it’s nothing to be concerned about. Contact lenses are designed to withstand fluid, up to a certain point. When you cry, the tears you produce will wash over the lenses and shouldn’t disturb them. Don’t rub your eyes whilst crying though, rubbing the eye will dislodge the lens and it could end up moving around the eye or even falling out. After crying you should remove your lenses and clean them thoroughly.
Can you shower with contact lenses in?
All types of water are bad for contact lenses, so showering whilst wearing them should be avoided. If you’ve stepped into the shower accidentally with your contacts in, close your eyes, step carefully out of the shower, dry your hands thoroughly and remove your contact lenses. Store them until you are done with your shower.
Quick links:How dehydration impacts your eyes
What does the water content of a contact lens mean and why is it so important?
How to use eye drops