Especially for people who wear contact lenses all day, it can get a bit confusing, when it is and isn’t okay to wear their lenses. One of the biggest question periods is during a shower. Is it alright, or not?
The FDA recommends that contact lenses should not be exposed to any kind of water, and while rare, exposure to water can potentially cause vision threatening conditions such as Acanthamoeba Keratitis if not treated properly.
The question about showering with contacts in is, in truth, part of a larger question, that of whether or not it’s safe to wear them while in and around water. For most people, the obvious answer is not to wear them while, for example, swimming or taking part in some other water activity where water may end up in your eyes. Showers, however, are everyday activities. While people often take showers in the morning or at night (so, either before or after putting in daily contacts), sometimes one needs to take a showe in the middle of the day, such as after an afternoon workout. What to do about contacts then?
Showers are not considered an exception to the accepted rule of taking your contacts out before doing a water activity.
If your contact lenses come into contact with water, it is possible for keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea, to develop. Keratitis may be only a minor irritation at first, but if it is left untreated, the problem can become much more severe, and even lead to vision loss.
The primary reason why it is strongly recommended that you take out your contact lenses before taking part in any water activity is that water, no matter the source (be it a river, lake, shower, pool, or jacuzzi), may carry bacteria that can become trapped between the lens and your eye. This will give the bacteria a chance to start spreading and cause an eye infection, such as microbial keratitis.
The reason such infections are unlikely while not wearing contacts is because your tears have natural antimicrobial properties that provide protection. While wearing contact lenses, however, that protection is lessened.
It is also possible for contact lenses to become stuck to your eyes when they are exposed to water. Showering with contact lenses can cause the lens to change shape which can increase the risk of discomfort or scratches to your eye. This can be quite uncomfortable, can make them harder to remove, and may lead to corneal abrasions. Corneal abrasions are particularly problematic, as these scratches on the eyes provide openings for microorganisms to get into the cornea and cause an infection.
Lenses falling out
Hard contact lenses are more likely to fall out when exposed to water. While soft lenses are not as likely to fall out, they are more likely to cause infection and discomfort when exposed to water.
Swimming or showering while wearing contacts can lead to symptoms of an eye infection, which include:
Consult our eye doctor if you experience any of these symptoms after your contact lenses get wet. An early diagnosis of any eye infection is crucial.
It's important to not panic if you take a shower with your lenses in. Here are some simple steps you can follow: