By Jacqui Mayhew 

Contact lenses for swimming  worn only at night while sleeping could have helped swimmer Jennie Hurst from Southampton avoid losing the sight in her left eye. Jennie is an established contact lens wearer who followed a strict hygiene routine using only recommended cleaning solutions and even replacing her extended wear monthly lenses every two weeks rather than using them for the whole month. However, she was unaware of the risk of infection from swimming in her contact lenses and following a short dip in a hotel pool while on a weekend break she contracted acanthamoeba keratitis. This is a serious infection derived from a parasite found in almost all soil, fresh water and sea water.

Indeed, the risk of contracting this infection is a key reason why contact lens wearers should never rinse their lenses under tap water as well as avoiding wearing them while showering, bathing or swimming. This is why short-sighted water sports enthusiasts who normally wear conventional daytime contact lenses are increasingly being advised to switch to overnight ortho-k contact lenses for swimming . Given Jennie's traumatic experience which involved six months of painful treatment and not only prevented her from working but also brought her normal lifestyle to a halt, hopefully many more people will become aware of the risks associated between contact lens wear and water-based infections.

Starting initially with a reddened eye, Jennie quickly began to experience severe pain in her left eye and went to the specialist eye casualty unit at Southampton General Hospital where she was prescribed eye drops for a week. After no improvement a week later, the doctors took a scrape of the surface of her eye to see if there was an infection and then administered half hourly eye drops day and night. The drops contain strong chemicals, cause significant discomfort and given the frequency of application make it almost impossible to get any sleep. Jennie spent the majority of time in a dark room - even the light on her phone screen was too bright to look at. Sadly, this painful treatment over an extended period has not enabled Jennie to regain the sight in her left eye but her tragic story will hopefully educate people about the risks of exposing their contact lenses to water and encourage more wearers to switch to ortho-k contact lenses for swimming .

Check if you are suitable for overnight ortho-k corrective contact lenses  for swimming.

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