Can You Wear Contacts in a Hot Tub or Swimming Pool? (Safety First)
If you wear contacts, you must have found yourself in a dilemma on whether to keep the contacts on or not when jumping into a pool or hot tub. As contacts are becoming a real alternative to glasses, more and more people are facing this problem. In this article, I will answer whether or not can you wear contacts in a hot tub or swimming pool.
The short answer is, no. You really shouldn’t wear them when you are in a hot tub or a swimming pool. There are certain health risks associated with wearing contacts in these places. Infections, irritation, damage to the cornea – are just some of the issues that can arise from wearing your contacts when you are inside the pool or hot tub.
If you are a health-conscious person and want to know all about the risks that might arise with contacts in the pool, don’t worry. I’ll explain them in detail in the rest of this article. I’ll also talk about the possible preventive measures as well as some safety tips you should follow in these situations. So, read through the whole article.
Risks of Wearing Contacts
There are a lot of risks in wearing contact lenses in a pool or hot tub. The worst part is all of the risks are linked with your eyes. As we know, the eyes are one of the most important sensory organs we have. So, any kind of damage to them will affect our normal livelihood immensely. So, you should know about them all.
Both swimming pools and hot tubs have their own risks regarding contact lenses. While some of them are similar, some are unique to them.
Swimming pools are an essential part of our summer lives. But, if you wear contact lenses, you should take them out before you go in the pool to be safe. Some of the reasons include-
Swimming with contacts can cause a lot of eye issues like eye irritation, inflammation, dry eyes, corneal abrasion, etc. Some of them are temporary problems but some are more dangerous than others. In some cases, it can cause sight-threatening problems also. So, avoiding them while swimming is a good idea.
As we know, all sorts of microbes, viruses, and bacteria live in water. You can only imagine the numbers will be more in a swimming pool. These bacteria and viruses get attached to the contact lenses and they cause serious eye problems in a short time. Even though pools are chlorinated, chlorine doesn’t kill all of the viruses and bacteria.
One of the most dangerous microbes found in the pools is Acanthamoeba. It adheres to your contacts and then infects and inflames your cornea. The condition is called Acanthamoeba keratitis, it can cause permanent vision loss in your eyes or need a corneal transplant to get better.
Water in the swimming pool is usually cleaned with chlorine. Chlorine is almost like bleach for water. So, if it gets in your eyes, it can cause irritation. Also, the chlorinated water molecule might damage your contacts. This increases the chances of bacteria entering your eyes.
Contact lenses strip the eyes of their natural protective layers. On top of it, they are made of porous, soft plastic. This is why the lenses become a breeding ground for microbes. These organisms get trapped between the lenses and the eyes. So, they can easily infect your vulnerable eyes.
The FDA also recommends not to expose your contacts to any kind of water including pools or hot tubs. Because viruses and bacteria easily contaminate them. Also, they allow the chemicals used in the water to lodge inside them and cause various problems to your eyes.
Even if the pool water is fresh, it’s still not a good idea to wear contacts. Water can cause soft lenses to tighten against your eyes. This can cause irritation and inflammation to your eyes. Both can be harmful to your sight.
The reasons for not wearing contacts in hot tubs are almost as same as swimming pools. For instance, hot tubs are also a breeding ground for countless microbes which can infect your contacts and then your eyes. So, all the precautions discussed earlier should be maintained along with some new ones.
Hot tubs or Jacuzzis as some might call it, splash waters all the time as they bubble away. This makes the water even more likely to get into your contacts and your eyes as you might be a bit more relaxed in them. So, the chances of getting infected are more. So, you should avoid your contacts.
Hot tubs contain warm water. This can be an issue with contact lenses. As we know, heat dehydrates our eyes. The effect is more if you have contacts. If it dehydrates your contacts, the shape of the contacts might change and it can damage your eyesight even further. Also, it can decrease the flow of oxygen to your cornea.
Some of the hot tubs and Jacuzzis have saltwater systems. This is even worse for your contacts and your eyes. Even though your contact lens solution is also saline in nature, they are not the same kind. Saltwater used in the hot tubs is harmful to your eyes. They get easily trapped between the lenses and eyes and cause severe irritation.
What If You Already Swam with Contacts?
First, take off the contacts immediately. Use your recommended eye drops as soon as possible. It will help to flush the irritants away from your eyes. Hopefully, germs and other microbes from the water will be removed also. The drop will also help to moisturize the eyes.
Before you put on your new contacts, make sure there is no irritation in your eyes. Also, sanitize your hands before you put on a new one. Else, the germs might still infect the new contact lenses as well.
If the symptoms still remain after a day or two, the best thing to do is to go see your doctor. Make an appointment as quickly as possible. The eyes are super sensitive. So, the infection might increase if you wait for long. Tell the doctor everything in detail. Then follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Hopefully, your eyes will get better.
Safety Tips for Swimming with Contacts
If you have serious problems with seeing without your lenses, then wearing them in the pools might be compulsory for you. In that case, you must follow some precautionary steps to ensure the safety of your eyes. These can reduce the chances of eye irritation and infection. So, you should never compromise. Some of them are-
- Always wear goggles while swimming. They prevent water from going into your eyes and your contact lenses. Choose good quality, tight-fitting goggles. Make sure there is no gap between the goggles and your skin when you put them on. If you’re a regular swimmer, you can try prescription goggles.
- After you finish swimming, take the lenses out immediately. Then, rinse your eyes properly with clean water. Put new contacts on after that.
- You must disinfect your lenses after you’ve swum with them. Put them into contact lens solution for 24 hours before reusing them. But it’s better to not use them as it’s impossible to kill all the germs.
- You can also use disposable daily contacts in the pool or hot tub. Throw them away as soon as you’re finished swimming or your bath. This is a better thing to do with your used contacts because you don’t run the risk of getting infected by them.
- If you swim competitively, ask your doctor for a special type of gas permeable lens. Use them at night. These lenses can help your eyes permanently. But, use them only if your doctor prescribes them.
Alternative to Contacts
As you might have a clear idea by now that contacts lenses are not a good idea in the pool. So, you should be careful when wearing them. Follow the safety tips always. Still, the best thing to do is to never wear them in the pool or hot tub. Using an alternative to your contact lenses is also a good idea. There are a few alternatives available to contacts which you can use instead.
For regular swimmers, prescription swimming goggles are a great thing to get. They are custom made for your eyes and also work as eyeglasses or contacts do. They also prevent water to get into your eyes. You can also see underwater without any risks whatsoever. It is getting popular day by day among the people also as it is a hassle-free way to enjoy your time in the pool.
People who compete in swimming professionally, usually get LASIK surgery done. This cures your eye problem for good. You won’t be needing any contacts anymore. Then there’s no restriction in swimming or taking a bath. You might consider them if you’re going to participate in competitive swimming.
In this day and age, a lot of people have to wear contacts for their eyesight. If you’re one of them you already face a lot of issues because of this. One of the popular concerns is that can you wear contacts in a hot tub or swimming pool? In this article, I tried to answer this question in detail. Now you should have a clear understanding of what you must do in these situations.
Follow my safety instructions if you must dive in with your contacts on. Or not, please take them off for the duration of your swim. That would be the safest course of action.