Can I Swim With Contact Lenses in Wilkes-Barre

Can I Swim With Contact Lenses in Wilkes-Barre

One of the most common questions we hear from new contact patients is whether they can swim in their contact lenses. The short answer is that it’s probably better if you don’t. Getting your contacts wet can pose several risks to your contact effectiveness and eye health. Read on to learn more about what can happen if you wear your contacts swimming and to discover the top places for contact-less swimming around Wilkes-Barre.

Why Shouldn’t You Wear Contacts While Swimming?

A Young boy swimming with goggles in a Wilke-Barre swimming pool.
Photo via Flickr by Sirsnapsalot Licensed CC BY 2.0

You may think that wearing contacts while swimming is safer because they allow you to see better underwater, but getting your contacts wet in anything that’s not contact solution can pose a few concerning risks. Here’s a closer look:


One reason to avoid wearing contacts while swimming, whether it’s in a pool, river, or even the shower, is because the contact can absorb the water. When it does this, it risks introducing bacteria, debris, viruses, or pathogens into your eye, effectively trapping those organisms and materials between the lens and your eyeball. Pool chemicals often reduce the instance of pathogens or other dangerous occurrences in water, but if you’re swimming in a lake, river, or ocean, this danger can be especially heightened.

Even though pool chemicals can help to kill some microorganisms, those chemicals can also get into your contacts, causing irritation. Because pool chemicals don’t always kill all pathogens present in a swimming pool, so you’re still at risk for getting a potentially harmful substance in your eye. Soft lenses, which are the most porous, are often most at risk of allowing unwanted materials into your eye.


Wearing your contacts while swimming can lead to uncomfortable eye irritation. This can happen if a contaminant gets into your eye, but you can also experience irritation from dry eye syndrome, an eye infection, or abrasions. 

Dry eye syndrome can affect your tear glands and ducts, preventing you from producing tears to provide natural eye lubrication. Many times, dry-eye syndrome requires special treatment to address. Eye infections are also a possibility when you expose your contacts to water while swimming. Abrasions can occur if contaminants get stuck between your lens and your eye. 

If you think you may have something in your contact lens, take your lens out right away and avoid rubbing your eye. Rubbing can cause the contaminant to scratch your eyeball, potentially resulting in long-term damage.

Eye Inflammation

Many things can cause inflammation in your eye. When you swim, you can increase your risk of inflammation from injuries, infections, or irritation. One particularly harmful type of eye inflammation is uveitis, which affects your eye’s uvea, or its middle tissue layer. Those with active inflammation might see redness in their eye. Pain and blurred vision are two other symptoms of uveitis.

What To Do If You Swim in Your Contacts

We do recommend removing your contacts before swimming. However, if you do wear them, there are still steps you can take to preserve your eye health. Take your contacts out as soon as possible after swimming, placing them in your contact solution for 24 hours or disposing of them if they’re daily contacts. Rinse your eyes with clean water and then put on a pair of glasses or a fresh pair of contacts. Eye drops before and after swimming can also reduce your risk of eye inflammation or dry eyes.

Tips for Swimming Without Contacts

If you’re worried about being able to see underwater without your contacts, here are some tips:

  • Wear leak-proof swim goggles over your contacts.
  • Get prescription goggles.
  • Have laser eye surgery to reduce your need for contacts.
  • Wear corneal reshaping contacts at night to improve your vision.
  • Get daily contacts, which you can easily throw away after swimming.
  • Speak to an ophthalmologist about your situation.

Where To Swim in Wilkes-Barre

We understand why the question of swimming in contact lenses is a popular one. Wilkes-Barre has so many great swimming spots to explore, and getting outside to enjoy swimming in the sunshine is enticing. Here’s a list of some of our favorite swimming holes:

Seven Tubs Nature Area

The Seven Tubs Nature Area is one of Wilkes-Barre’s top natural attractions. In the nature area, you can take a refreshing dip in one of the naturally formed bedrock ‘tubs’ after completing the area’s 1.8-mile Autoban Loop Trail. The chilly glacial meltwater makes summer a perfect time to visit the pools.

Kingston Community Pool

For those wanting fun for the whole family, check out the community pool in nearby Kingston. It has tons of fun features, like a water slide and several fountains. They also offer swim lessons.

Frances Slocum State Park Pool

Another fun area swimming option is the Frances Slocum State Park Pool, located inside the Frances Slocum State Park. Visitors to the park enjoy access to a family-friendly swimming pool, among the park’s other attractions. The pool also has a snack bar.

Can You Shower in Contacts?

Any water can pose risks to your eyes and your contacts, including shower water. If you must shower in your contacts, remember to remove them shortly after and place them in a disinfecting solution for at least a day. Usually, though, it’s a good idea to avoid exposing your contacts to any water, natural, chemical, or household.

Shower water can present the same dangers as swimming, potentially introducing harmful pathogens or contaminants into your eye, but it has an additional risk, too. Some tap water contains specific bacteria that can harm your eyes, causing eye irritation and infections. Though rare, these infections can become severe enough to cause blindness.

We know it’s sometimes easy to forget you’re wearing your contacts, and there may be times when you need the extra visibility while swimming. If you do wear them your contacts in water, just remember to follow best practices to keep you and your eyes safe. Call and let us know, or stop into our Wilkes-Barre Office, if you’ve visited some of the swimming spots we mentioned, or if you have a great solution for keeping your contacts safe while swimming. We’d love to add your recommendations to our list!