If you wear contact lenses you may wonder if it is OK to wear them while showering. There are a few reasons why it is generally not recommended. In this article I will discuss the reasons why you shouldn’t shower with contact lenses.
The Verdict About Showering With Contacts
The general consensus among eye care professionals is that it is unfavorable to shower with contact lenses in. But why? The reason why optometrists say this is because of the small
likelihood of contracting a very rare eye infection called acanthamobea keratitis. Acanthamobea is a tiny micro-organism that can be present in all forms of water that are not sterile. This includes tap and shower water. Should that micro-organism be in the some of the water that touches your contact lenses, it can latch onto it and begin to live and multiply there. Naturally, your eye is the next thing it starts to invade and that’s how you get the infection. It is for this exact same reason that is it not recommended that you swim with your contact lenses either. These infections are extremely rare, but they have occurred before, and that is why the safest thing to do is not to do these activities with contacts.
How Common is Acanthamobea Keratitis?
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, there is roughly 15 cases of acanthamobea keratitis for every 1 million contact lens wearer. Keep in mind that even non-contact lens wearers can get acanthamobea keratitis, but 85% of the cases are in contact lens wearers. Also keep in mind that showering or swimming with contact lenses is not the only thing that can lead to acanthamobea keratitis. Imporper cleaning, handling and storing of the contact lenses are also contributors.
Do People Still Shower With Contacts?
Of course they do. They vast majority of people can go their entire lives showering with their contact lenses and never get acanthamobea keratitis. But however small the risk is, it is still there. So it comes down to how much risk you are willing to take with your eyes. Personally, when I wore contact lenses (before I had LASIK), I would avoid showering with my contact lenses. From time to time it would slip my mind and I would end up showering with them.
Are There Other Reasons Not To Shower With Contacts?
Yes, in fact the main reason I did not shower with my contacts was because of how dry my contacts felt afterwards when I did shower with them. Showering with your contacts will make them dry and uncomfortable for a considerable length of time after your shower. For me it was 20 to 30 minutes. It also became extremely challenging to remove the contact lenses during those 20-30 minutes.
When you are taught how to wear contact lenses for the first time, you will most likely be instructed not shower with your contact lenses. In order to avoid the risk of infection and to avoid the dryness and discomfort that comes from it, you should follow that rule. But if you forget to remove your contacts before you shower once in a while, there is no reason to panic. Just try to remember to take them out next time and visit your eye doctor if you develop any unusual symptoms.