The short answer is “no.” Just like swimming or washing your face while wearing contact lenses, taking a shower with contacts isn’t the best idea. Continue reading below to find out why.
What are the risks of showering while wearing contacts?
Contact lenses are like little plastic sponges, meaning they absorb water very easily. And that’s where the problem lies. Water — whether it’s tap water, water from a swimming pool, or water from the sea — contains microorganisms that can increase your risk of getting a nasty eye infection.
Perhaps the most dangerous of those microorganisms is an amoeba called Acanthamoeba, which is very common in nature. Acanthamoeba organisms can cause an infection of the eye when they enter the eye through small scrapes. Known as Acanthamoeba keratitis, this infection can lead to vision loss or total blindness if left untreated.
But that’s not all. A contact lens exposed to water will swell, becoming uncomfortable to wear and causing blurry vision. There’s also the very real possibility of losing your contacts down the drain because water, when it hits your eyes, can break the seal on your contacts.
All in all, there are so many things that can go wrong when you take a shower while wearing contacts, so it’s best to just remove them before you step into the shower. Keep them in your lens case and just put them back in after you’ve dried yourself.
What should you do if you accidentally showered while wearing contacts?
If you realize you’re wearing contacts after you’ve already stepped into the shower, don’t panic. Follow these steps:
- Step out of the shower.
- Dry your hands, then remove your contacts immediately.
- If your contacts are daily disposables, throw them away. If your contacts are reusable (e.g., weeklies and monthlies), check if the lenses are damaged. If they are, throw them away. If not, clean and disinfect them with fresh lens solution.
In case of redness or soreness, reach out to your eye doctor as soon as possible.
Best practices for contact lens wear and care
As the CDC puts it, you only have one pair of eyes, so take care of them. One way you can do that is by following best practices for contact lens wear and care. These include:
- Don’t sleep in your contacts – Unless your eye doctor says otherwise, remove your contacts before bed. Sleeping while wearing contacts can increase your risk of an eye infection.
- Handle your contacts with clean hands – Always wash and dry your hands before handling your contacts. This helps ensure you’re not transferring germs, dirt, or debris from your hands and onto your contacts.
- Keep your contacts away from water – Always remove contacts before swimming, taking a shower, and washing your face, and never store contacts or rinse them with water or any non-sterile solution.
- Clean your contacts properly – You run the risk of getting a serious eye infection if you don’t clean, disinfect, or store your contacts properly. Follow your eye doctor’s instructions exactly.
- Clean your contact lens case properly – If not properly cleaned and disinfected, lens cases can become a haven for harmful bacteria. To clean your case, rinse it with contact lens solution and rub the inside with your fingers. Allow it to air dry upside down until you’re ready to store your contacts again.
- Replace your contact lens case – No matter how well you clean your lens case, it can still accumulate bacteria and contaminants over time. Make sure to replace your lens case every three months.
- Visit your eye doctor – Our eyes and vision naturally change over time, which is why it’s important to see an eye care professional (ECP) regularly. Depending on your eye health needs, your ECP will establish how often you need to be seen for eye exams. If you have any concerns between scheduled visits, don’t hesitate to contact your ECP.
- Carry a backup pair of glasses – A backup pair of glasses — one with a current prescription — will come in handy if case something unexpected happens and you need to remove your contacts.
Contact lens health starts with you, so make sure to remove your contacts before you step into the shower. You should also follow best practices for wearing, cleaning, and storing contacts to keep your eyes healthy during lens wear and avoid any contact lens-related problems.
If you experience symptoms like eye pain, excessive tearing, or sensitivity to light, remove your contacts immediately and talk to your eye doctor as soon as possible.