Can I Surf with Contact Lenses?

swimming with contact lenses and goggles

Very few people have perfect vision. Most people wear glasses and contact lenses. If you’re a surfer that wears contact lenses, you probably wonder if you can surf with them. This is actually a very important question you need to know the answer to.

The best people who know the answer to that question are eye doctors. Did you know it can take up to 9 years to become one? When it comes to eyes, they know their stuff. In general, eye doctors don’t recommend wearing contacts while surfing.

There’s a low risk for vision loss because of infections or abrasions that can be caused by the salt water or sand. However low of a risk it is to lose your vision, a risk is still a risk. It’s best to have no risk of losing eyesight with whatever you’re doing, including surfing. So ideally you should follow this advice.

How to Surf with Contact Lenses

But despite the risk, some people who wear contact lenses still surf with them. If you read what surfers say on online forums about wearing contact lenses, none of them ever say they’ve lost their vision while surfing with them.

Some will even tell you they rarely lose their contact lenses in the water. Consequently, if you’re going to go ahead and surf while wearing your contact lenses, then at least follow these tips to be safer.

1. Keep Your Eyes Closed Underwater

The first thing you should make sure you do is to keep your eyes closed when you’re underwater. That’ll help keep you from losing them, and also avoid getting salt water or sand caught between your eyes and your contacts. Be sure to watch out for the waves coming at you and close your eyes if the wave is going to splash over your head.

2. Daily Contact Lenses

daily contact lenses

Wearing clean daily disposable contacts helps reduce your risk of developing an infection. These kinds of contact lenses are designed for wearing and throwing away after a single use. Eye care practitioners say this is ideal even if you aren’t surfing.

Just wearing long-term contacts puts you at risk of getting an eye infection. You add that risk with the risk you take surfing in long-term contacts, and that low risk is starting to turn into a high risk of eye problems.

So ideally if you can, wear a fresh pair of contacts whenever you go surfing. Then after you finish surfing, take them out when you’ve cleaned your hands at home, and wash your eyes out with saline if you have any. If you don’t have saline, then use rewetting drops or artificial tears approved for contact lenses to rinse your eyes. Then put in a fresh pair of daily disposable lenses afterward.

But if you still decide to go surfing with weekly or monthly contacts, then make sure you clean them immediately when you get home.

3. Don’t Rub Your Eyes

This is another thing you probably already know not to do when you have lenses in your eyes. So even more so with your hands splashing in the salt water and getting sand on them, don’t rub your eyes.

Rubbing your eyes will only end up getting the salt water or sand inside. Only touch your eyes after you’ve cleaned your hands.

4. Avoid Water That’s Polluted

polluted ocean caused by sewage drain

Some cities and towns have sewage drains that run directly into the ocean. That’s a lot of bacteria that could potentially get stuck in your eyes if you’re not careful. Do your research on the waters of the beach you plan to surf.

Avoid surfing near bodies of water that’s connected with sewage drains. Altogether, you should avoid getting in contact with polluted water and you should find a beach that’s clean. But if there aren’t any others close to you, be extra cautious in following the first 3 tips.

San Diego Surfing School is very candid about these top 4 ways to reduce eye infections and vision loss.

5. Eye Trouble = Call the Eye Doctor

You don’t want to wait if you feel something wrong with your eyes during or after surfing. There are a few signs you should be aware of. If you notice redness, swelling, blurry vision, extra tears, itching, burning, eye pain, or feeling like something’s in your eye, contact your eye doctor.

You should take the eye lenses out when your hands are clean and store them somewhere until you see them. Whatever’s on them could be good clues that might help your eye doctor know what’s wrong with your eyes.

Woman Goes Blind

Someone going blind because of wearing contact lenses in the water has happened before. A woman developed a clouded vision in her left eye from wearing contact lenses while swimming and showering.

She went to her eye doctor who discovered that she contracted a rare infection. Surgeries have healed her pain, but because of the damage to her cornea, she’s now legally blind in her left eye. You probably think I’m trying to scare you, but I’m not. This story is just to inform you about the real risk you’re taking when you go out surfing while wearing contact lenses. The more you know, the better decision you can make.

Alternative Eyewear Solutions

Healthy eyes are significant to your health and well-being. Therefore, you should always practice safety and care. Here are alternatives to keeping your eyes healthy during a swim.

1. Lasik Eye Surgery

If you’re a very active surfer who must be out in the water every day, laser eye surgery could be a helpful option for you. The surgery could correct your eyes and you’d no longer have to wear contact lenses.

You could be out in the water without having to worry about not getting any in your eyes. It is, of course, an expensive option. There are also some risks with eye surgery, but I’ll spare you the horror stories. Just be sure to do your research.

2. Swim Goggles

kids surfing and swimming with goggles on

For a less expensive option, try finding waterproof swim goggles. It’ll keep your contacts from falling out, and keep any potential contaminants from getting in. You can even get prescription swim goggles. They’ll help you see clearly just like glasses. But unfortunately, they don’t work for all eye problems, so you’ll have to check if they can work for your specific eye needs.

Can I Wear Contact Lenses While Surfing?

You can choose to do it if you want, but it’s not advisable with the risk of infection that can lead to permanent eye damage. You’re better off not wearing contact lenses or just wearing prescription eye goggles. But if you decide to wear contact lenses, keep the guidelines listed in this article in mind.

Wear daily contact lenses, don’t rub your eyes, keep your eyes closed underwater, avoid polluted water, and contact your eye doctor if your eyes don’t feel right. You can also bring some freshwater, cleaning solution, and a spare set of lenses with you in case the ones you’re wearing fall out. The goal in all of this is to ensure your eyes are safe, you have fun surfing, and you go home with your vision intact.

Always remember to clean your hands thoroughly after every surf session. Don’t touch your eyes and contact lenses until you’ve done that. Then remove the lenses, clean your eyes, and put in a fresh set of contacts. Keep all of that in mind, and happy surfing.

Do you know how to clean your surfboard? Learn how to properly clean your surfboard and have it looking great out in the water.

If you’re new to surfing, these tips on how to surf will really help you out.

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