IF you wear contact lenses, listen up!
It turns out a common mistake is putting you at risk of nasty infections, this summer.
Opticians have warned that even a quick swim can cause some serious damage to your peepers – the last thing you want when you’re on holiday.
According to Nimmi Mistry, professional services optician at Vision Direct, water tends to be rife with bacteria, whether it’s tap, sea or swimming pool water.
This matters because contact lenses are “exceptionally porous and absorbent”, she told Huffington Post.
Exposing your lenses to water when you swim means bacteria is more likely to spread across their surface.
As a result, even a quick dip in the pool or sea could put you at greater risk of developing a sight-threatening eye infection.
While chlorine is added to swimming pool water to kill germs, it can’t eradicate all of them according to Nimmi. It might also irritate your peepers too, she added.
“As soft lenses are exceptionally porous, the bacteria and the chlorine in pool water can still easily reach and harm your eyes,” the optician explained.
Your risk of a nasty infection is even higher when swimming in the sea, rivers or lakes, or indulging in water sports, because natural bodies of water contain higher levels of bacteria.
Acanthamoeba is one of the most dangerous organisms found in these sources and can result in a rare but serious eye infection, Acanthamoeba keratitis.
“If left untreated, this infection may lead to inflammation of the cornea, resulting in vision loss and sight-threatening complications down the line,” Nimmi stressed.
The signs of acanthamoeba keratitis you need to know
Acanthamoeba causes Acanthamoeba keratitis when it infects the transparent outer covering of the eye called the cornea.
Acanthamoeba amebas are very common in nature and can be found in bodies of water (for example, lakes and oceans), soil, and air, medics at the CDC state.
The symptoms can be similar to those of other eye infections and can last for several weeks or several months.
The main signs to look for include:
- Eye pain
- Eye redness
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensation of something in the eye
- Excessive tearing
If you have any of the above then you should see an eye doctor.
Experts at the CDC said that eventually Acanthamoeba keratitis will cause pain and vision loss if left untreated.
So what should you do if you’re worried about not being able to see underwater?
Nimmi suggested you opt for daily disposable contact lenses instead of reusable ones and wear tight-fitting waterproof swimming goggles.
It’s best to throw out the reusable lenses afterwards, she added.
If you don’t want to tear through reusable lenses on your holiday, Nimmi suggested buying some prescription goggles – it means you’ll also be foregoing wearing lenses while swimming altogether, lessening your chances of infection.
If you want to stick to your reusable lenses, you could also remove them while you’re swimming and pop them back in afterwards.