Can You Shower With Contacts?

Showering, along with other water activities, is not something you should be doing with your contact lenses in. But why?

Can You Shower With Contacts? in Manhattan

Especially for people who wear contact lenses all day, it can get a bit confusing, when it is and isn’t okay to wear their lenses. One of the biggest question periods is during a shower. Is it alright, or not?

The FDA recommends that contact lenses should not be exposed to any kind of water, and while rare, exposure to water can potentially cause vision threatening conditions such as Acanthamoeba Keratitis if not treated properly.

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Contact Lenses and Water

The question about showering with contacts in is, in truth, part of a larger question, that of whether or not it’s safe to wear them while in and around water. For most people, the obvious answer is not to wear them while, for example, swimming or taking part in some other water activity where water may end up in your eyes. Showers, however, are everyday activities. While people often take showers in the morning or at night (so, either before or after putting in daily contacts), sometimes one needs to take a showe in the middle of the day, such as after an afternoon workout. What to do about contacts then?

Showers are not considered an exception to the accepted rule of taking your contacts out before doing a water activity.

Contact Lenses and Water: Why They Don't Mix

Discomfort/Irritation

If your contact lenses come into contact with water, it is possible for keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea, to develop. Keratitis may be only a minor irritation at first, but if it is left untreated, the problem can become much more severe, and even lead to vision loss.

Infection Potential

The primary reason why it is strongly recommended that you take out your contact lenses before taking part in any water activity is that water, no matter the source (be it a river, lake, shower, pool, or jacuzzi), may carry bacteria that can become trapped between the lens and your eye. This will give the bacteria a chance to start spreading and cause an eye infection, such as microbial keratitis.

The reason such infections are unlikely while not wearing contacts is because your tears have natural antimicrobial properties that provide protection. While wearing contact lenses, however, that protection is lessened.

Stuck Lenses

It is also possible for contact lenses to become stuck to your eyes when they are exposed to water. Showering with contact lenses can cause the lens to change shape which can increase the risk of discomfort or scratches to your eye. This can be quite uncomfortable, can make them harder to remove, and may lead to corneal abrasions. Corneal abrasions are particularly problematic, as these scratches on the eyes provide openings for microorganisms to get into the cornea and cause an infection.

Lenses falling out 

Hard contact lenses are more likely to fall out when exposed to water. While soft lenses are not as likely to fall out, they are more likely to cause infection and discomfort when exposed to water.

Contact Lenses and Water: Why They Don't Mix
Contact Lenses and Water: Why They Don't Mix

Contact Lenses and Water: Why They Don't Mix

Showering with your contact lenses can increase your risk of several eye issues, including:

  • Eye conditions
  • Eye infections
  • Dry eyes
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Corneal abrasions or scratches
Contact Lenses and Water: Why They Don't Mix

Symptoms Of An Eye Infection

Swimming or showering while wearing contacts can lead to symptoms of an eye infection, which include:

  • Red eyes
  • Eye pain
  • Itchy eyes
  • Excessively watery, teary eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Eye discharge
  • Swelling
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Feeling like you have something in your eye

Consult our eye doctor if you experience any of these symptoms after your contact lenses get wet. An early diagnosis of any eye infection is crucial.

What should you do if you accidentally showered with your contact lenses?

It's important to not panic if you take a shower with your lenses in. Here are some simple steps you can follow:

  • To prevent bacteria from getting trapped in your eyes, dry your hands after getting out of the shower and remove your lenses right away.
  • Those who wear daily contact lenses can discard them immediately, but those who wear biweekly or monthly contacts must determine if they have been damaged or are misshapen. Lenses that have been damaged must be discarded, and those that have not been damaged should be sterilised in contact lens solution before being reapplied.
  • Should the redness or soreness persist, seek professional medical advice from our optometrist. You should also apply some eye drops, switch to your glasses, and give your eyes a break.
Contact Lenses and Water: Why They Don't Mix
Dr. Wernick cartoon

Listen to Your Doctor, and Follow Lens Instructions

The directions you receive about how to use and care for your contact lenses are not arbitrary. They are there to ensure that you get the most effectiveness possible from the lenses, and that you do not experience any uncomfortable or damaging problems due to the lenses. Particularly when engaging in water activities, showers included, you should remove your contact lenses.

If you have additional questions, or if you want to schedule an eye exam or contact lens fitting, you can contact Amplify EyeCare Manhattan at (212) 752-6930.

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Dr. Kavner recommended two types of eye therapy for my daughter. One of them using bio-feedback. In just three sessions she is seeing considerably better. She shouted this morning: Ooh my God! I could not see these letters with my glasses on, and now I can see them without my glasses. If you are willing and able to invest in improving your vision, this is a good place to go to!


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