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Contact Lenses are a part of everyday life for many people, with the CDC estimates in 2015 that over 30 million Americans wear contact lenses daily. However, there are many complications that can arise from wearing contact lenses. More specifically, proper maintenance of contact lenses is essential to its proper use.
Should I wear contact lenses in the bathtub?
No. Individuals wearing contact lenses should avoid having them come in contact with impure water, such as tap water, saunas, wells, showers, and of course bathtubs and swimming pools. This restriction is due to the existence of a certain amoeba: Acanthamoeba.
What is acanthamoeba and why is it bad?
Acanthamoeba is one of the most common eukaryotic lifeforms in the world and has been known to have harmful effects on humans. This amoeba can become attached to contact lenses if exposed to them through impure water, and can subsequently enter the eye. While the possible effects of acanthamoeba are numerous, the effects it has on the eye are of particular mention. Acanthamoeba can cause a condition called acanthamoebic keratitis. Acanthamoebic keratitis can cause corneal ulcers, and can even lead to blindness.
Are there any preventative measures?
Yes. First, try to avoid wearing contact lenses in the bath. If this isn’t an option, wear tight-fitting swim goggles over your eyes.
What if my lenses accidentally come into contact with bathwater?
First, loosen the lens from the eye with a lubricating drop, then remove the lens with dry hands. Next, discard the lenses, or clean and disinfect them. Do not use any multipurpose contact lens solution, as they are largely ineffective against acanthamoeba. Do not fall asleep with lenses that were exposed to bathwater without first cleaning and disinfecting them.