A very common question that new contact lens users ask is whether or not they can go swimming with their contacts in. Others wonder if it's OK to shower or bathe with their contacts, or even splash water on their face. There are a lot of water-based activities in our daily lives and sometimes contacts do not fit into those activities too well.
Swimming with Contacts
It's never a good idea to swim with your contact lenses in. In fact, it could be very bad for your eyes. In a pool, the chemicals needed to maintain the pH and the chlorine can irritate your eyes under normal circumstances, but with contacts, they will be trapped right up against your eye, even after you get out of the pool and the pool water can actually cause infections as bacteria are introduced to the eye.
In addition to the above issues, contacts absorb water. If they absorb pool water, with all the chemicals, it can be common for the contact lenses to actually stick to the eye itself. While this is usually not serious, it can definitely be uncomfortable. To correct the problem, leave the contacts in and do not try to remove them until your natural tears have replaced the pool water in the contact lenses.
Even if you go swimming in a lake, it's not a good idea to use your contacts as they can actually be floated out of your eye by large quantities of water. However, if you need your contacts while swimming, a very tightly fitted pair of swim goggles can help ensure that they do not get lost.
Showering and Bathing with Contacts
Showering offers the same hazards as mentioned above with swimming. The quantity of water can wash the contact lenses right out of your eyes and may cause problems if your water is chlorinated. While the exposure to chemicals is probably not long enough to cause issues, there is a chance that chlorine will be trapped behind the contact, causing irritation and discomfort.
Some people do manage to shower with their contacts in, by simply not looking up into the water or by closing their eyes during the shower. While possible, it's not advisable. There is a pretty high risk that you'll lose your contacts and they can easily be washed down the drain, making it impossible to recover them. It's a better idea to simply wait until after your morning shower to put your contacts in.
Taking a bath should not be a problem, as long as you do not go under the water. It's possible to wash up without risking the loss of your lenses and this should not be an issue. Most people do not submerge themselves in the bathtub anyway.
Face Washing with Contacts
In general, you should be able to wash your face with your contacts in, as long as you are not splashing water into your eyes. Regular face washing is just fine. Most people close their eyes anyway while washing their face, which ensures that your contact lenses will remain firmly in place.
Contacts and water do not mix, particularly water that has been chlorinated. There are situations, like a bath or washing your face, when you do not need to have to remove the contact lenses, but to be sure you do not end up with overly irritated eyes and lost contacts, it's best to just avoid using contacts when you are swimming or showering. This will keep them safe, particularly if you are not using disposable ones and have paid a chunk of change for your contacts!