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This post was most recently updated on November 7th, 2019
While it may be convenient to come home after a long day of work and hop directly into the shower with your contact lenses on, this might not be the best idea for you and your eye health. You may have heard before that you shouldn’t go swimming with your contact lenses on, and taking a shower with them on is pretty similar to swimming with them on. Water and contact lenses should never come in contact with each other, here’s why.
Why you shouldn’t shower with contacts
Quite frankly I don’t remember my eye doctor warning me about not doing things where my contact lenses can be in contact with water. I have personally had two experiences with contact lenses in combination with water. One time the waves at the beach dislodged the contacts out of my eyes and I lost both of them, and another time I took a shower with them on and one was stuck to my eye. Neither experience was fun and I was lucky to not have anything else more serious happen.
Why was that contact stuck to my eye after taking a shower?
Well, soft contact lenses are not designed to be used with water, and when it comes in contact with water it can change its shape, swell up, and then stick to your eye. Anyone that has ever gotten a contact lens stuck to your eye before knows that it’s not a comfortable feeling, and attempting to remove the stuck contact could lead to other serious complications such as a scratched cornea.
Also, think about those times that you’ve gotten soap in your eye and it stung and you had to flush your eyes out with water. Now imagine the same situation happening with your contact lenses on. Now you’ve got contact lenses that have absorbed the soap or shampoo that you were just using. This could further irritate your eyes and lead to an infection.
Water is not free of germs
Aside from worrying about the contact lens tightening around your eyes from the water, tap water is not free from germs and could contain many contaminants that could get trapped in your contact lenses and cause an eye infection.
If you are unlucky and manage to get an eye infection from contacts that have been in contact with water in the mild cases you could just have slightly irritated and itchy eyes. There are more serious but rare pathogens that could cause issues when your contact come in contact with water, as well as conditions that could arise, take a look below.
- Acanthamoeba – This single-celled living organism causes a rare but very serious condition called Acanthamoeba Keratitis. This condition affects the cornea and could lead to blindness. Acanthamoeba is normally found in natural water sources such as lakes, rivers, the sea, and tap water. This is the reason why you shouldn’t go swimming in a lake with your contacts on. Even though tap water in developed countries goes through water treatment plants to disinfect the water, there is still a chance it can contain Acanthamoeba.
- Pseudomonas – This pathogen has been thought to adhere to contact lens surfaces easier than other pathogens. One certain strain, Pseudomonas aeruginosa is particularly virulence, and in many cases causes permanent eye damage including blindness.
- Conjunctivitis – This is another more serious issue that could arise from having your contact lenses come in contact with water. There are viral conjunctivitis that normally clears up after a couple of days, and there is bacterial conjunctivitis that can be serious if not treated.
What if you’ve already showered with your contacts on?
So you took a hot, steamy shower and now your contact lens is stuck to your eye, now what?
Well before you sit there and try to pry the contact lens off of your eyes, you should remoisturise the contact lenses. You can lubricate your eyes using saline drops and blinking a few times to get your lenses unstuck from your eyes.
From there remove your contact lenses and put them in a clean storage case filled up with fresh contact lens solution and leave them overnight to be disinfected.
If you put your contact lenses on the next day and you are experiencing eye irritation, pain, blurred vision, discharge, or redness, contact your eye doctor as soon as possible.
What if you wear extended wear contact lenses?
This is where it gets tricky.
Extended wear contact lenses are contact lenses that are FDA approved to be worn for multiple days as well as overnight. BUT, even though these contact lenses are indeed approved for you to constantly wear that doesn’t mean the risk associated with getting water on your contact lenses are any different.
Therefore, be extra careful if you are wearing extended wear lenses, as you are already a higher risk for eye infections because of them being extended wear lenses.
Keep your contacts away from water, period. If you are someone that is active in swimming or any other watersport you might want to consider getting prescription swim goggles, or if you feel like you must wear your contacts consider investing in a pair of quality tight fitting goggles to keep the water out.
As far as showering with your contacts on, it is not recommended. The few extra minutes you save by not taking your contact lenses out before hopping in the shower is definitely not worth the risk of getting one of those pathogens getting trapped in your contact lenses. Even a little splash of water can lead to something very serious.
I would love to hear your guys thoughts on this topic, drop a comment below! As always thank you for stopping by Eye Health HQ, and don’t forget that if you did enjoy the article don’t forget you can support us by sharing this article through your favorite social media channels. There are buttons located above and below the post.
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