Are you someone who showers with your contacts in? If so, you might want to stop. Eye care professionals are quick to remind patients that contact lenses and water do not mix, which means you could damage your lenses by exposing them to the shower.
We get it—it’s totally convenient to just step into the shower and step back out without having to worry about taking out your lenses and putting them back in. However, there are some severe consequences that could occur as a result of wearing contacts in the shower, including damaging your contacts and potentially injuring yourself.
Here’s an overview of what you should know.
Why you don’t want to expose your lenses to water
Beyond the potential ability to damage your contact lenses, there is also a significant risk of developing a serious eye infection if you do not take out your contacts to shower.
There are many germs found in water, both viral and bacterial. Many of those germs do not cause us harm, and your tap water is disinfected of the most dangerous microbes before it comes out of the fixtures in your home.
However, even well-cleaned municipal water can still contain an organism called acanthamoeba. This organism lives in natural sources of water, such as lakes, rivers and oceans, as well as in tap water. If it gets into your eyes while you’re wearing contact lenses, it could cause a condition called acanthamoeba keratitis.
While this is a very rare condition, it’s also extremely serious. It’s very difficult to treat, and it could result in a dissolved cornea thanks to the proteins released by the organism. Early symptoms include blurred vision, redness and irritation, but bad versions of the condition could result in blindness.
Of course, while that’s a handful-in-a-million possibility, it’s still a good reason to take out your contacts. There are plenty of other reasons to take out your contacts before showering, though.
Consider the fact that contact lenses soak up water particles and swell up. If you expose them to excessive moisture, they could swell up in your eyes, causing discomfort. Any of the particles they absorb could also cause an eye infection.
If your shower is particularly steamy, it could have the opposite effect and cause your lenses to shrink and shrivel up. In such a case, the lens could stick to the surface of your eye, which can make it difficult and painful to remove. You’ll need to carefully lubricate the eye before attempting to do so.
Finally, if you accidentally get soap in your eye, the pain can be exacerbated because it becomes even more difficult to get the lens out of your eye while you’re in the shower.
For all of these reasons, your best bet is to simply remove your contacts before jumping in the shower. For more tips about how to safely use your contact lenses, we encourage you to get in touch with Dr. Jill’s Optical Shoppe in Oshkosh with any questions.