Is it Safe to Wear My Contact Lenses in the Shower?

Millions of people use contact lenses every day to see better. But is it safe to keep them in while you're taking a shower? Many eye doctors are worried about the hidden dangers that can come from mixing contact lenses with shower water. In this article, we're going to take a closer look at why wearing your contacts in the shower might not be a good idea. We'll explain what happens to your contacts in the shower, how it could affect your eyes, and share tips on how to keep your eyes healthy without giving up the convenience of contacts.

The Shower Environment

When you step into a shower, you're surrounded by warm water, steam, and the soothing sound of droplets hitting the floor. This might feel great for your body, but it's a different story for your contact lenses. Showers bring together heat and humidity, which are conditions that bacteria and other tiny organisms love. Even the cleanest-looking water can carry these invisible germs.

In most homes, shower water comes straight from the tap, and while it's usually safe for washing and drinking, it's not sterile. That means it can have all sorts of microorganisms in it. For most parts of our body, this isn't a problem, but our eyes are more sensitive, especially when we're wearing contacts.

Wearing contact lenses in the shower can expose your eyes to harmful bacteria and microorganisms, posing risks to eye health.

Risks of Wearing Contacts in the Shower

Dangers of Waterborne Pathogens

When you shower with your contact lenses on, you expose your eyes to tiny organisms that love water. One of the scariest is a bug called Acanthamoeba. If this microbe gets trapped between your contact lens and your eye, it can cause a serious infection known as Acanthamoeba keratitis. This infection can hurt a lot, and in severe cases, it could even lead to blindness. Besides this, other germs like bacteria and fungi found in tap water can also stick to your contacts and potentially lead to infections.

Issues with Tap Water and Lens Interaction

Your contacts are designed to let oxygen reach your eyes. But when they absorb water from the shower, they can change contact lenses shape, get sticky, or even swell up. This not only makes them less comfortable but also makes it harder for your eyes to breathe. This swelling can also blur your vision temporarily and affect how well the lenses fit, which can scratch your eye or make the lens more likely to fall out.

Moreover, if your contacts trap water against your eyes, they're also trapping whatever is in that water, including chemicals like chlorine and other disinfectants that can be irritating. If your eyes get red, itchy, or start to hurt after you've been in the shower with contacts, these chemicals could be part of the problem.

Showering in contacts might seem like it saves time, but the risks it brings to your eyes could lead to bigger problems down the road. It's important to weigh the convenience against the potential harm to your eye health.

Best Practices for Contact Lens Hygiene and Safety

Keeping your eyes healthy while enjoying the convenience of contact lenses is all about good habits. Here's how you can protect your eyes and ensure your vision stays clear:

Proper Cleaning and Storage of Contact Lenses

Always use a recommended lens solution to clean and store your contacts. Tap water, even if it looks clean, can harbor microorganisms and should never be used on lenses. After taking your lenses out, gently rub and rinse them with the solution before storing them in a clean case filled with fresh solution. Remember, a clean lens is a safe lens.

Handling Lenses with Clean, Dry Hands

Before touching your contacts, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, then dry them with a lint-free towel. This reduces the risk of transferring dirt or harmful microorganisms from your hands to your eyes.

Alternatives to Wearing Contacts in Risky Environments

If you're someone who loves water activities or finds yourself in situations where your eyes might get wet, consider alternatives like prescription goggles. These not only protect your eyes from water but also correct your vision underwater. For daily showering, simply remove your contacts beforehand. If you need to see clearly in the shower, invest in a fog-free bathroom mirror as a safer alternative.

Practicing these simple steps can significantly reduce your risk of eye infections and ensure that wearing contact lenses remains a safe and beneficial choice for your vision needs. Remember, taking a few moments to care for your contacts can save you from potential eye problems in the future.

colored contact lenses

Steps to Take if You've Worn Contacts in the Shower

Even with the best intentions, we might sometimes forget or overlook our eye care routines. If you've accidentally worn your contacts in the shower, don't panic. Here's what you should do next:

Immediate Care and Assessment

First, carefully remove your contact lenses as soon as possible. This helps minimize the time any harmful microorganisms have to transfer from the lens to your eye. Rinse your eyes with a sterile saline solution or artificial tears to flush out any potential contaminants. Then, clean and disinfect your contacts using proper lens solution, or better yet, dispose of them if they are daily disposables.

When to Seek Professional Medical Attention

After removing your lenses and rinsing your eyes, pay close attention to how they feel. If you experience symptoms like redness, pain, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, or unusual discharge, it's important to consult an eye care professional immediately. These could be signs of an infection or injury that requires professional treatment.

Treatment Options and Recovery

If you do end up with an infection or another issue, your eye doctor may prescribe medicated eye drops or other treatments to help clear the infection and soothe inflammation. Follow their instructions closely, and make sure to complete the full course of treatment even if your symptoms improve. During recovery, avoid wearing contact lenses to give your eyes a chance to heal completely. Your eye care provider will let you know when it's safe to start wearing them again.

Accidentally wearing your contacts in the shower isn't the end of the world, but it is a reminder of how important it is to follow safe lens practices. By taking immediate action and knowing when to get help, you can protect your eyes from harm and keep your vision clear and comfortable.

Addressing Common Questions and Concerns

When it comes to wearing contacts in the shower, many people have questions about what's safe and what isn't. Here, we address some of those queries with clear, easy-to-understand advice.

Can closing my eyes tightly in the shower protect against water exposure?

While closing your eyes can reduce the amount of water that directly contacts your lenses, it's not foolproof. Water can still seep in around the edges, and because contact lenses are absorbent, they can suck up contaminants that cause infections. It's always safest to remove your lenses before hopping into the shower.

What should I do if water splashes in my eyes while wearing contacts?

If a splash happens, remove your lenses as soon as you can after getting out of the shower. Rinse your eyes with sterile saline or use artificial tears to help wash away any potential irritants. Then, clean and disinfect your lenses if they're reusable, or throw them away if they're disposables.

Is there a difference in risk between different types of showers?

Whether you're taking a quick cold shower or enjoying a long hot one, the risk remains. Steamy environments can actually increase the likelihood of microbe transfer, so even if the water pressure is lower, it's still not safe for your contact lenses.

By understanding these common concerns and knowing how to respond, you can make smarter choices about your eye health. Wearing contact lenses should be convenient and comfortable, but it should also be safe. If you ever have doubts about what to do, err on the side of caution or consult with your eye care professional. Now, let's summarize the key points to remember about wearing contacts in the shower.

colored contact lenses

Final Thoughts

It's really important to keep your contact lenses out of the shower. The mix of heat and water in showers can bring germs that can cause eye infections, and this is risky for anyone wearing contacts. So remember, before you step into the shower, take a moment to remove your lenses-it's one of the easiest things you can do to protect your eyes. And if you ever accidentally wear them in the shower, just take them out as soon as you can and give your eyes a good rinse. Your eyes are priceless, and taking care of them means enjoying clear vision without the worry.

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