I know this should be obvious to most of you, but, it seems that the messages about how dangerous normal water can be to contact lens wearers just aren’t getting through.
Dr Danielle Robertson and Dr Dwight Cavanagh, both ophthalmologists at the University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, have completed a study that shows that many of the 35 million contact lens wearers in the United States are risking their eye health because they are not taking simple precautions.
Tap Water is for Drinking, Not for Cleaning Lenses
Some contact lens wearers are guilty of using tap water to clean their lenses. As we know, tap water is not as pure as we think it is and is, in fact, home to lots of micro-organisms. These micro-organisms are bad news for your contact lenses and can cause a rare condition called Acanthamoeba keratitis in your eyes. This is a nasty eye condition that can, in severe cases, cause a loss of vision.
As we’ve reported before, many people who are otherwise thorough in cleaning their lenses, use tap water to clean their contact lens cases, again, this can cause a build up of microbial keratitis on the lenses and in your eyes.
Remove Your Lenses before You Shower or Bathe
However, don’t be smug just because you don’t use tap water to clean your lenses or your lens cases. The study also found that many contact lens wearers regularly shower or bathe with their lenses in. This is again, exposing the lens to water and micro-organisms that can damage the eye. Most users don’t make this connection when they are under a steaming hot shower or relaxing in a hot tub, but those water droplets ARE getting onto your lenses and into your eyes.
As Cornea Specialist JoAnn Chang, M.D. of D’Ambrosio Eye Care comments: “Some patients-and even some eye care professionals-tend to be a little lax when it comes to directing contact lens wearers to avoid wearing their contacts while swimming-or even in the shower-and especially in hot tubs or spas. Contact lenses really shouldn’t be worn for swimming, taking showers, in bath tubs or in hot tubs as there is plenty of research and clinical experience that tells us that it poses unnecessary safety risks to patients.”
This is why The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended that contact lenses not be exposed to any form of water. “We know that Acanthamoeba, as well as some other potentially harmful types of bacteria found in water, can stick to the surface of contact lenses and cause an infection of the cornea,” said Dr. Chang.
So unless you shower with your eyes shut – take your lenses out before you get in the shower and if you wear do your lenses in the bath or shower, remove and clean them as soon as you can.