Can I swim with contact lenses?

Woman swimming with contact lenses

Our customers often ask us how safe it is to be wearing contact lenses whilst swimming or playing other water sports such as water polo or synchronised swimming — our response is it should be avoided at all times. Why is this? Wearing lenses in water leaves your eyes vulnerable to contamination by harmful bacteria present in the water, putting you at risk of eye irritation and infections.

A little advice on swimming with lenses

  • Avoid swimming in lenses as water may contaminate them and distort their shape.
  • If you must wear lenses while swimming, wear daily disposables with waterproof swimming goggle.
  • Consider prescription goggles to correct refractive errors and see clearly underwater.

Reasons to avoid contact lenses while swimming

Using contact lenses for sports in general is a great choice, but they require good hygiene. The water in swimming pools, rivers and oceans hosts an abundance of bacteria, viruses and microorganisms, many of which can be really harmful for your eyes. Acanthamoeba for example, is an organism found in many water sites. When it comes in contact with your lenses, it attaches itself to them and can cause the surface of your eye to become inflamed and eventually infected.

Contact lenses will also naturally absorb any water around them, which could change their shape dramatically. This will make them uncomfortable to wear, often causing your vision to become distorted and blurry, this is another reason we would advise not to wear contact lenses for swimming.

 Man swimming with contact lenses

Swimming with contact lenses

If, for any reason, you still want to swim in contact lenses and you simply cannot avoid wearing them, then consider wearing daily disposables along with waterproof swimming goggles. Because the water is host to a variety of potentially harmful microorganisms, daily contact lenses will give you the freedom to use contact lenses while swimming without needing to clean and rinse them afterwards. All you need to do is put them in before you swim and throw them away immediately after.

If at any time you feel discomfort with your contact lenses while swimming, be sure to remove and discard them immediately. If you are still concerned, it’s also worth visiting your optician for any further advice involving swimming in your lenses.

Alternatives to contact lenses while swimming

Ideal for regular swimmers, prescription swimming goggles are a fantastic investment to correct your vision while you swim. They are custom made and work the same way eyeglasses do - by correcting specific refractive errors like myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (long-sightedness) and presbyopia, according to your prescription. Because they seal off the water from coming into contact with your eyes, you will be able to see clearly underwater without the risk of contamination.

Some brands of prescription swimming goggles are even available as ready-made models, which come with the same prescription figures for both eyes. Before purchasing, we recommend that you check the goggles against the prescription you received from your optician to ensure that it matches exactly.