Most of us have our daily shower either first thing in the morning or as part of our nightly routine before we go to bed. In both cases, there is a good chance you feel tired and sleepy and you’re just going about your routine on autopilot. There is one thing, however, that you must pay attention to before you get in the shower, for the sake of your health. We are talking about removing your contact lenses.
Eye-health experts stress that showering with your contact lenses still on could lead to irreversible damage. In this article, we will discuss the reasons why contact lenses should never come in contact with water, and what to do if you accidentally got in the shower while still wearing them.
Why eye-lenses and water don’t mix
The water of any source like showers, hot tubs, and pools contains all kinds of germs, including acanthamoeba, which is known as the "eye eating amoeba." If you’re not wearing eye-contacts and your eye comes in contact with acanthamoeba, your natural blink reflex is enough to wash it away. However, if you are wearing them, the bacteria can cling to your contacts and remain on the lens.
There is a good reason why you really don’t want acanthamoeba to stick around in your eye. The bacteria could cause a rare but very severe type of eye infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK). “Once in your eye, acanthamoeba releases proteins that dissolve the cornea," explained optometrist Gabriela Olivares to Best Life. The cornea is the transparent outer layer at the front of your eye. It helps your eyes to focus on lights, and it’s thanks to your cornea that you can see clearly. AK is difficult to treat with conventional medications, and it may cause permanent visual impairment, due to the damage to the cornea and other structures important to vision. The worst cases of AK can result in blindness.
This is not the only way showering with contact lenses could damage your eyes. When water comes in contact with your contact lenses it could cause them to change their shape, swell, and stick to your eye. This may not only be painful but can also scratch your cornea. Over time, these scratches could lead to microscopic breaks in the surface of your cornea, making it easier for microbes and germs like acanthamoeba to cause infections.
If you happen to forget to take your contact lenses out and accidentally get in the shower while still wearing them - don’t panic. Dr. Olivera's recommendation is to immediately close your eyes, shut the water off, and carefully step out of the shower until you can remove the lenses correctly. Even if you did come in contact with any dangerous germs, once the contact lens is removed, the bacteria are likely to be removed too, as nothing is holding them onto your eye anymore.
Make sure you only remove and handle your contact lenses with dry hands. If your contact lenses did come in contact with water throw them away immediately or disinfect them with a proper contact lens solution. If you experience symptoms like soreness, redness, or blurred vision after having removed your contact lenses, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
If you often happen to forget your contact lenses are on, it might be a good idea to put a reminder note somewhere in the shower, to prevent any unnecessary worries.
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