Swimmers: Water, contact lenses don’t mix

Swimmers: Water, contact lenses don’t mix

Summer's unofficial start is just days away as pools and recreational getaways ready for the season, offering doctors a prime opportunity for discussing contact lens hygiene around water.

Nearly a quarter of respondents admit to swimming in their contact lenses.

This week marks National Healthy and Safe Swimming Week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the lead up to the Memorial Day weekend. The health observance serves as a reminder for proper swimming hygiene and the need for swimmers to take an active role in helping prevent the spread of germs.

The CDC hopes to raise public awareness about recreational water illnesses (RWIs) derived from contaminated water sources, not only manifesting in gastrointestinal illnesses, but also skin, ear, eye, respiratory, neurologic and wound infections.

For contact lens wearers, part of healthy and safe swimming involves proper contact lens hygiene, and doctors can help reinforce this message with educational resources accessible as an AOA member benefit.

AOA member resources for public campaigns
According to the AOA's 2015 American Eye-Q® survey, nearly a quarter of respondents admit to swimming in their contact lenses, while another 53 percent wear their lenses while showering despite recommendations to the contrary.

Soft contact lenses, in particular, absorb water and any chemicals or bacteria in the water. Although rare, a sight-threatening eye complication, Acanthamoeba keratitis, is caused by an organism present in all forms of impure water, such as swimming pools, tap water and showers. That's why it's vitally important for contact lens wearers to remove their lenses before swimming or use appropriate solution to clean and disinfect lenses if they're accidently splashed.

Help get this message out to patients and the public with online member resources, including:

Click here to read more about patients' six common contact lens mistakes, and click here to find more public education and campaign materials on a variety of subjects.

May 18, 2015

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