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Can You Shower With Contact Lenses?

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A woman using her left index finger to pull her eyelid up while she puts a contact lens on her right eye with her right hand.

Contact lenses have become indispensable to millions of people’s daily lives, offering freedom from glasses while enhancing vision. 

However, when it comes to personal hygiene routines like showering, there’s often confusion surrounding whether it’s safe to keep contact lenses in. Despite suggestions to the contrary, it is recommended to remove contact lenses before showering to maintain ocular health and safety.

At Total Vision Long Beach, we focus on aiding your family’s vision so it can be the best it can be! We offer eye exams for every family member, no matter their age, and a wide selection of other eye care services.

Showering With Contact Lenses In

It might seem convenient to keep your contact lenses in for a quick shower rather than taking them out and properly storing them just to put them back in again. 

Some people suggest that you might be okay if you’re careful not to blast water directly into your eyes. But why risk it? It’s not recommended to shower with contact lenses in for several reasons:

Water Contamination

Water from the tap, pool, or hot tub can introduce various microorganisms to your eyes, including bacteria and amoebas. These microorganisms can adhere to the surface of your contact lenses and potentially lead to eye infections, such as bacterial keratitis or acanthamoeba keratitis. Even if the water appears clean, it may still harbor harmful pathogens.

Symptoms of Keratitis

If you’re trying to determine whether you have keratitis, there are a few signs you shouldn’t ignore. If removing your contacts doesn’t ease the pain in your eyes, that’s a big clue. Feeling like you’ve got sand in your eyes or something’s stuck in them is another warning sign. 

Also, if your eyes are redder than normal, you’re tearing up a lot, the light seems too bright, or your vision is blurry, those are all signals that something may not be right. If you notice these symptoms, it might be time to chat with an optometrist for a check-up.

Contact Lens Interactions

Contact lenses absorb moisture from your eyes to maintain comfort and clarity. However, when exposed to water during showering, they can absorb chemicals, minerals, and impurities present in the water. This can alter the composition of the lens material and lead to discomfort or irritation when worn later.

Risk of Damage

Showering involves exposure to various elements like soap, shampoo, and conditioner, which can inadvertently come into contact with your eyes. Contact lenses can trap these substances against the surface of your eyes, potentially causing irritation or allergic reactions. Additionally, vigorous rubbing of the eyes while showering can dislodge or damage the contact lenses.

Lens Displacement & Corneal Scratches 

When contact lenses come into contact with water, they can change shape, swell, and stick to your eye. This is far from comfortable and can scratch your cornea–the clear layer covering the iris and pupil. Scratches essentially invite germs in, potentially leading to an infection.

The force of water from the shower can cause contact lenses to shift or move around on the surface of your eyes. This can result in discomfort, blurred vision, or even loss of the lens if it washes out of your eye.

Best Practices for Contact Lens Wearers

To maintain optimal eye health and make sure that your contact lenses live a long life, here are some best practices to follow:

  • Always remove your contact lenses before showering, swimming, or engaging in water-related activities.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling your contact lenses.
  • Use fresh contact lens solution to clean, disinfect, and store your lenses after removing them.
  • Follow the recommended wearing schedule and replace your contact lenses as advised by your eye care professional.
  • Avoid sleeping or napping in your contact lenses unless prescribed for extended wear.

Throw Away Contacts Contaminated by Water

If your contact lenses come into contact with water, it’s important to act quickly. You have two options: either dispose of them immediately or thoroughly clean and disinfect them before using them again. 

This approach may help reduce the risk of infection, although it’s worth noting that these recommendations aren’t based on rigorous scientific evidence. Ultimately, avoiding water exposure with contact lenses is the safest practice.

Close-up of a man undergoing a slit-lamp exam.

Prioritizing Eye Health

While it may be tempting to keep your contact lenses in while showering, it’s important to prioritize your eye health and adhere to best practices for contact lens wear. 

By removing your lenses before showering and following proper hygiene and care routines, you can minimize the risk of eye infections and discomfort and maintain clear and comfortable vision for years to come. 

Remember, when it comes to your eyes, it’s always better to err on the side of caution, and don’t forget to book regular eye exams with Total Vision Long Beach to make sure that your eyes and the eyes of your loved ones stay healthy! Book your next appointment today.

Written by Total Vision

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