Can you snorkel with contacts? Or is it dangerous? 3 critical eye-saving informative solutions to the basic answers.
To put it simply, yes, I am one of the many people requiring contact lenses to see correctly. Some of my wishes I had a 20/20 vision like some of my friends, but it usually doesn’t get in the way of my daily life. I put on my eyeglasses when I feel like it. If I feel like putting on my contacts, I do so. In most cases, that is the level of complexity involved.
When you go snorkeling, you’re introduced to a whole new world (in the best possible manner), complete with seas, snorkel masks, and a lot more. This isn’t something I usually give much thought to, but because snorkeling isn’t something I do every day, it’s wise to research how these elements could affect my eyes to ensure my safety and well-being.
If I want to pretend that I don’t wear glasses, putting in contacts is a quick and easy solution. With contacts, I can do things like put on sunglasses or, in principle, use a snorkel mask. You can also check our other article related to this topic (Can you Snorkel with Glasses?) But here, the question arises in mind…
Can you snorkel with contacts?
Snorkeling while wearing soft contacts is technically conceivable, but doctors strongly advise against it owing to the risk of infection if the lenses come into contact with water-containing microorganisms. It’s also not a good idea to wear hard or gas-permeable contacts if you plan on snorkeling since they can become stuck in your eye or scrape your cornea due to the pressure of the water.
That seems like a bit of a downer. Let’s take a closer look at what this implies and what you need to know, whether you use soft contacts, hard contacts, or gas-permeable contacts and wish to have clear vision when snorkeling.
1. Snorkeling with soft contacts
People use contact lenses when snorkeling, and soft contacts (as opposed to hard or gas-permeable contacts) seem to create few problems while underwater [Source]. Wearing contacts while swimming may seem like a no-brainer after reading that, but the tale is more nuanced than that.
Microorganisms and bacteria may be found in nearly every body of water. When it comes to our eyes, our natural system does a fantastic job of draining out nearly anything that may make its way in, and these germs and bacteria typically don’t give us any difficulty. This frequently happens, even in mundane situations like taking a shower.
Contact lenses, however, present bacteria with a novel surface to colonize. Acanthamoeba is a kind of microorganism found in water. If it can attach to a contact lens and remain in the eye, it may lead to a severe illness known as Acanthamoeba keratitis.
It’s a significant concern since it’s pretty painful and can cause irreversible eyesight loss or the need for a corneal transplant. [Source]
And, it doesn’t take much, in theory. Even if only a few droplets of ocean water make it into a snorkeler’s mask, the opportunity exists for this to occur. The CDC, the FDA, and many other organizations in the United States advise against using contact lenses when swimming, bathing, using a hot tub, or snorkeling. While significant issues are uncommon, it’s always prudent to take precautions if they arise. [Source]
2. Snorkeling with hard or gas-permeable contacts
Therefore, soft contacts should not be used. What about gas-permeable or hard contacts? Yes and no.
Hard and gas-permeable contacts function the same way as soft contacts by giving bacteria something to cling to in the event they come into contact with your eyes via water. All gas-impermeable and hard contacts should be ruled out at this point. In addition, there’s much more.
Although using contact lenses while snorkeling is highly unsafe, some are still willing to take the chance. However, those folks should still avoid the complex and gas-permeable kinds.
Diving with hard or gas-permeable lenses can lead to discomfort, blurred vision, contacts sticking to the eye, scratches on the cornea, and other eye injuries due to the interaction between the lenses and the water pressure above. [Source] Therefore, snorkeling is not recommended when using hard or gas-permeable glasses. No, go.
3. Snorkeling tips if you need contacts to see
While it’s recommended that you don’t wear your contacts in the pool, some eye experts acknowledge that this isn’t always practicable. [Source]
In this scenario, you must always have the best snorkel mask that fits snugly against your face. If your mask gets wet while you’re wearing it, you need to get those contacts out right away and put them in a container of disinfecting solution for at least 24 hours before putting them back in.
Every time you complete snorkeling, it is essential that you remove your contacts and clean them for 24 hours, even if it doesn’t look like you have any water in them. If you wear contact lenses, don’t forget to bring a contact case and solution with you on your next beach or boat trip.
And since we’re on the subject of health, here’s an excellent (and profound) reminder to pack travel medical insurance that includes coverage for snorkeling in case you sustain an accident while doing so, whether to your eyes or elsewhere.
Bonus: can i snorkel with glasses?
As a result, it appears that all possible encounters in water should be avoided. And now what? If you wear glasses, do you think you’ll be able to snorkel? Contacts with water should be avoided entirely if at all feasible. What Should We Do Now? Can you snorkel with glasses?
Since this is a topic near and dear to my heart (i.e., I love snorkeling, and my vision isn’t unique), we’ve also written an entirely separate guide on how to see well while snorkeling if you need some prescription eyewear to see well.
Thankfully, snorkel masks with corrective lenses, such as drop-in lenses, integrated lenses, bonded lenses, and many more, are readily accessible. DIY solutions involving a pair of eyeglasses may also be used to prepare a snorkel mask for clear underwater vision.
We’ve gone ahead and done the legwork of comparing and contrasting several options for you in terms of price, usability, etc. So, if you’re here, partially squinting at this article, check out Can You Snorkel With Glasses? 7 Great Ways to See Underwater.
Can you snorkel with contacts? Even with contacts, snorkeling seems like a breeze. Indeed, there is some truth to it. To protect your eyes, however, you should obey the warnings and precautions issued by medical professionals and government bodies alike.
Who knew the issue of where I put my contact lenses would become so severe? The truth isn’t pretty, but maintaining good eye health is essential to enjoying years of enjoyable snorkeling. Therefore we must discuss it.
Because your eyes are so vital, the benefits of being able to snorkel while wearing contacts are outweighed by the dangers. However, if you want to observe the underwater environment clearly and without risk to your health, many more solutions are worth exploring.