By Steve Roberts
Swimming in contact lenses becomes a big problem for many people as summer approaches and the holiday season gets underway. A swimming pool environment and the sea are loaded with bacteria and micro-organisms which put your eyes at risk of infection and even major contact lens manufacturers like Bausch and Lomb recommend either not wearing contact lenses at all when swimming or only doing so if protected by watertight goggles. But even a small amount of water can still get behind the goggles and give rise to infection risk. Major optical retailer Specsavers suggests wearing prescription swimming goggles as a means of providing corrected vision without needing contact lenses but these obviously come at a cost.
So how bad can swimming in contact lenses be? Well, it can be very bad if a bacterial infection becomes established. The worst culprit is a tiny, one-celled, water-living bug called Acanthamoeba which is found in water sources such as tap water, well water, hot tubs, swimming pools and soil as well as sewage systems. They are extremely hardy parasites and if they infect the eye, a potentially serious condition known as Acanthamoeba keratitis can result. Although the cornea is very robust, if it has a tiny abrasion or break in the surface, these little bugs can get in. Treatment is very difficult and it can take years - if ever - for the cornea to repair itself. In extreme cases it might even require a corneal graft or transplant.
This risk is greatly exacerbated by swimming in contact lenses since the bacteria attach themselves to the lenses and may still be in the eye long enough to cause an infection even if the lenses are subsequently discarded after swimming. So for shortsighted contact lens wearers, it seems like the only options open to them are either to invest in prescription swimming goggles or to consider laser surgery so that the contact lens problem goes away completely. However, the new overnight ortho-k corrective contact lenses are only worn while sleeping then removed in the morning. By gently flattening the surface of the eye overnight, these bespoke lenses ensure that light focuses directly on the retina rather than in front of it thus providing full vision correction which lasts until the lenses are reinserted at night.
Check if you are suitable for overnight ortho-k corrective contact lenses .