Can You Shower with Contacts?

Have you ever been stepping into a refreshing shower, wondering if you should take out your contact lenses first? This common dilemma plagues many contact lens wearers. Whether you’re in a rush or just want to enjoy a quick rinse, whether it’s safe to keep your contacts in during a shower can be perplexing. In this article, we’ll dive into the pros and cons, potential risks, and best practices for managing your contacts while maintaining your daily hygiene routine.

Overview: Navigating Contact Lens Safety in the Shower

One question often arises among contact lens wearers is whether it’s safe to shower with their lenses in place. We’ll explore the risks, expert recommendations, and best practices to address this.

Risks of Showering with Contacts

  1. Infection Risk:
    • Microorganisms in Water: Despite being treated, tap water can still harbor microorganisms such as Acanthamoeba.
    • Biofilm Formation: Water exposure can lead to the formation of biofilms on contact lenses, providing a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. These biofilms make it easier for pathogens to stick to the lenses and subsequently to the eye, increasing infection risk.
  2. Lens Contamination:
    • Chemical Exposure: Showering can expose your contacts to chemicals in shampoos, conditioners, and soaps. These chemicals can adhere to the lenses, causing irritation and potentially damaging the lens material.
    • Residual Water: Water droplets left on the lenses after showering can cause discomfort and blurriness, interfering with vision.
  3. Lens Displacement:
    • Movement During Showering: The force of water from the shower can cause your contact lenses to shift or dislodge. This can be particularly uncomfortable and may require you to remove and clean the lenses or replace them if lost or damaged.

Expert Recommendations

Experts and eye care professionals strongly advise against showering with contact lenses due to the potential risks. Here are some essential guidelines to follow:

  • Remove Contacts Before Showering: Store them in a clean lens case with a fresh solution to keep them moist and free from contaminants.
  • Use Daily Disposable Lenses: If removing lenses before every shower is inconvenient, consider switching to daily disposable lenses. These can be discarded at the end of the day, reducing the risk of infection.
  • Keep Eyes Closed: If you must shower with your lenses in, keep your eyes closed as much as possible to minimize water contact. However, this method needs to be foolproof and still carries risks.

Best Practices

Adopting good hygiene practices is crucial for contact lens wearers. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

Maintain Hygiene: Before handling your contact lenses, ensure your hands are impeccably clean by washing them with soap and water. Use a lint-free towel to thoroughly dry them, preventing particles from adhering to your lenses.

Adhere to Lens Care Guidelines: Strictly follow the cleaning and storage directives of the eye care specialist. Utilize the designated contact lens solution exclusively and refrain from rinsing your lenses with water, which can compromise their cleanliness and safety.

Routine Eye Assessments: These check-ups are crucial for maintaining optimal ocular health and ensuring your lenses provide comfortable and effective vision correction.

Potential Risks of Showering with Contacts

Understanding the potential risks of showering with contact lenses is paramount for safeguarding eye health and averting complications. Let’s explore the specific hazards linked to this practice:

  1. Microorganisms and Infections: Showering with contact lenses exposes your eyes to potentially harmful microorganisms found in water. Acanthamoeba is a microorganism capable of causing a severe eye infection known as Acanthamoeba keratitis. This infection poses significant risks, including intense pain, prolonged treatment durations, and the possibility of permanent vision impairment.
  2. Chemical Exposure: Shower water often contains chemicals from soaps, shampoos, and conditioners. These substances can adhere to your contact lenses, resulting in potential irritation and discomfort. Prolonged exposure to such chemicals may also compromise the quality of the lenses, adversely affecting their performance and safety.
  3. Lens Displacement and Damage: The force of water in the shower can induce the displacement or dislodgement of contact lenses from your eyes. This displacement causes discomfort and heightens the risk of losing the lenses altogether. Furthermore, lenses may sustain damage upon contact with hard surfaces or during attempts to adjust them with wet hands.

Here’s a summary table highlighting the potential risks:

Risk Factor Description Potential Consequences
Microorganisms Harmful organisms like Acanthamoeba in tap water are also a problem. Acanthamoeba keratitis, severe pain, vision loss.
Chemical Exposure Contact with chemicals from soaps, shampoos, and conditioners. Eye irritation, lens degradation, discomfort.
Lens Displacement Movement or loss of lenses due to water pressure. Discomfort, risk of losing lenses, potential damage to lenses.

Best Practices to Mitigate Risks

Eye care professionals recommend removing contact lenses before showering to avoid these risks. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you must shower with lenses in, follow these precautions:

  • Keep Eyes Closed: Minimize water exposure by keeping your eyes closed.
  • Wear Goggles: Consider using waterproof goggles to protect your eyes from direct water contact.
  • Use Daily Disposables: Opt for daily disposable lenses to reduce the risk of contamination.

Best Practices for Contact Lens Wearers

Ensuring the well-being and safety of your eyes is paramount, especially for those who wear contact lenses. Here’s a comprehensive guide outlining essential practices for contact lens wearers:

  1. Prioritize Hygiene
  • Thorough Hand Washing: Before touching your contact lenses, wash your hands diligently with soap and water.
  • Avoid Water Contact: Do not rinse or store your contact lenses in water. Only utilize the contact lens solution your eye care specialist recommends for cleaning and storage.
  1. Adhere to Cleaning and Storage Guidelines
  • Use Recommended Solutions: Strictly adhere to your eye care professional’s cleaning and storage solutions, such as homemade solutions or saline, which lack effective disinfection properties.
  • Gentle Cleaning: Even with “no-rub” solutions, gently rub your lenses with your fingertips and rinse them thoroughly to eliminate debris and bacteria.
  1. Handle Lenses with Caution
  • Nail-Free Handling: Use the pads of your fingers to handle your lenses to prevent accidental tearing with your nails.
  • Pre-Insertion Inspection: Before placing your lenses in your eyes, inspect them for any signs of damage, debris, or discoloration.
  1. Maintain Replacement Routine
  • Follow Schedule: Adhere strictly to the recommended schedule for your contact lenses, whether daily, bi-weekly, or monthly disposables.
  • Renew Lens Case: To mitigate the risk of contamination, replace your contact lens case at least every three months.
  1. Exercise Caution with Eye Products
  • Prevent Contamination: Take measures to ensure that eye drops, solutions, and makeup do not contaminate each other.
  • Choose Wisely: Opt for hypoallergenic and water-based makeup products to minimize the likelihood of irritation.
  1. Monitor Eye Health
  • Regular Check-ups: Schedule routine appointments with your eye care specialist to verify the proper fit of your contact lenses.
  • Pay Attention to Symptoms: Stay vigilant for any indications of discomfort, redness, or alterations in vision.
  1. Follow Specific Guidelines for Situational Use
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses to mitigate exposure to waterborne microorganisms and chemicals.
  • Unless specifically designed for extended wear, remove your contact lenses before napping or sleeping to allow your eyes adequate oxygenation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I shower with my contact lenses in?

Answer: It is not recommended to shower with contact lenses in. Showering can expose your lenses to water, which may contain harmful microorganisms and chemicals that can lead to infections or irritation. It is best to remove your lenses before showering.

What should I do if I accidentally shower with my contacts?

Answer: If you accidentally shower with your contacts, remove them immediately and clean them thoroughly with the appropriate contact lens solution before reinserting.

Can water damage my contact lenses?

Answer: Yes, water can damage your contact lenses. It can cause lenses to warp or change shape, making them uncomfortable or less effective. Water can also introduce harmful microorganisms and chemicals to your lenses, increasing the risk of infection.

Are there contact lenses safe for use in water?

Answer: While no contact lenses are completely safe for use in water, daily disposable lenses may reduce the risk of infection if you need to wear lenses in situations where they might get wet. However, it’s still best to avoid water exposure whenever possible and use protective goggles when necessary.

What are the signs of an eye infection from contact lenses?

Answer: Signs of an eye infection include redness, pain, swelling, excessive tearing, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision.

How often should I replace my contact lens case?

Answer: It is recommended that you replace your contact lens case at least every three months. Regularly cleaning your case with contact lens solution (never water) and allowing it to air dry can help prevent contamination.

Key Takeaways for Contact Lens Wearers:

  1. Prioritize Hygiene and Proper Handling

Maintaining proper hygiene and handling your contact lenses correctly are critical steps in preventing infections and ensuring eye health. Use only the recommended contact lens solutions for cleaning, rinsing, and storing your lenses. Avoid using tap water or saliva, as these can introduce harmful microorganisms. Ensure your lens case is clean and replace it every three months to prevent contamination. Adhering to these practices reduces the risk of eye infections and ensures your lenses remain safe and comfortable to wear.

  1. Avoid Water Contact with Lenses

Water from the shower, swimming pool, or tap can pose significant risks to contact lens wearers. Water can harbor harmful microorganisms such as Acanthamoeba, which can cause severe eye infections. Additionally, tap or pool water chemicals can damage your lenses and cause eye irritation. To mitigate these risks, permanently remove your contact lenses before showering, swimming, or engaging in any activity where your lenses may come into contact with water. If you find it challenging to remove your lenses in these situations, consider using daily disposable lenses and wearing protective goggles to reduce exposure.

  1. Regular Eye Care and Professional Guidance

Regular eye exams and professional guidance are pivotal in maintaining optimal eye health. It’s crucial to schedule routine check-ups with your eye care specialist to verify the health of your eyes and the proper fit of your contact lenses. Your eye care professional can also offer personalized recommendations regarding lens care, hygiene protocols, and the most suitable lens options tailored to your lifestyle.

Be vigilant for any indications of discomfort, redness, or alterations in vision, and promptly seek medical attention if such symptoms manifest. By remaining proactive and well-informed, you can reap the advantages of contact lenses while mitigating the likelihood of potential complications.

Conclusion

Contact lenses offer the freedom of clear vision without the constraints of glasses. Still, it also comes with responsibilities to ensure eye health and safety. Understanding the risks associated with showering while wearing contacts, such as exposure to harmful microorganisms and chemicals, is crucial for every lens wearer. Incorporating best practices, such as washing your hands before handling lenses, using appropriate cleaning solutions, and replacing your lens case regularly, plays a vital role in maintaining optimal eye health. Additionally, removing contact lenses before engaging in water activities and seeking immediate medical attention if you notice any signs of discomfort or infection are essential to protect your vision.

By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the benefits of contact lenses safely and comfortably. Remember, your eye health is paramount, and taking proactive measures will ensure you can continue enjoying clear, unhindered vision for years to come. Stay informed, stay diligent, and your eyes will thank you.