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Is It Bad to Swim With Contacts?

author image Jonathan Croswell
Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.
Is It Bad to Swim With Contacts?
Contact lenses should not be worn when swimming. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Contact lenses make a lot of things easier for their users, particularly those who participate in sports. Not having to hassle with taking off, putting on and protecting glasses during activities is a major convenience factor to wearing contacts. Still, there can be some downsides, particularly when it comes to swimming. Although you can choose to swim while wearing contacts, there are many reasons why you shouldn't.

Eye Irritation

Many people find the chlorine in swimming pools to be an irritant to their eyes. This can be even worse with contact lenses, which can trap chlorine underneath the lens and prolong discomfort and redness. Chlorine can also damage your contact lenses and shorten their lifespan.

Risk of Infection

Swimming pool water may be treated with chlorine, but it still carries bacteria and other microorganisms that could be hazardous to your health. When you swim with contact lenses, you open yourself up to the possibility of those organisms becoming trapped against your eye beneath your lenses. This can lead to infections that may have very serious consequences, resulting in vision impairment or even total vision loss.

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Lens Loss

It's also possible when swimming that your contact lense will become loosened from the eye and slip into the water. This is particularly likely if you open your eyes when underwater. When the water flushes out the contact, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to locate the lens because it is transparent and shiny, sharing properties with water. This can leave you stranded without good vision and cost you money as you replace your contacts prematurely.


If your eyesight is very bad and you need corrective eyewear when swimming, you can still enjoy good eyesight without putting your eyes at risk. Some swimming goggles can be fixed with corrective lenses to give you 20/20 vision. These goggles also help protect your eyes from chlorine and bacteria in the water. Although you can wear goggles to protect your eyes when wearing contacts, most goggles can slip and let water in, which still puts your eyes at risk.

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