Can You Surf With Contact Lenses? (And Should You?)

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No, surfing with contact lenses considerably increases your chances of contracting nasty eye infections. This, alongside the irritation and redness caused by salt and sand, makes contact lenses a poor choice when you’re out in the waves.

But what if you haven’t got a choice? Some surfers hate the feeling of not being able to see properly while they paddle and catch waves.

Let’s take look at some of the risks associated with surfing and contact lenses and some easy ways you can reduce the risk of any eye injury or infection.

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Why you’re putting yourself at risk surfing with contact lenses

Ocean water contains microorganisms, bacteria and viruses, some of which can cause irreversible damage to your vision.

All of the above are microscopic and even the slightest splash of water, while you’re surfing, can put your eye at risk.

A 41-year-old woman from England nearly lost her sight due to wearing contacts while swimming.

The primary concern is that your contact lenses will trap any of the above against your eye, causing irritation and in some cases infection.

If bacteria reach your cornea there is a very real risk of vision loss or the need for prolonged medical treatment.

The second is that tiny granules of sand and silt become trapped between the surface of your eye and your contact lenses.

This can irritate your eye and if left untreated scratch the lens of your eye.

While not a serious problem, sore and painful eyes can often lead to you cutting your surf short.

If you’re dead set on surfing with contact lenses then keep reading for our tips on how you can surf with contact lenses pain and irritation free.

How to reduce the chance of eye injury and infection

Here are some proven steps to reduce your risk of eye damage or infection while you surf.

Wear disposable contact lenses

Disposable contact lenses or ‘Dailies’ are perfect for surfing because they’re single-use.

Any issues with potential bacteria build-up are immediately solved and you can always swap back to your weekly or monthly lenses for normal day-to-day life.

Avoid opening your eyes while you duck dive

Opening your eyes underwater as you dive under a wave is going to expose your contact lenses to all of the tiny bits of sand, organisms and debris in the water.

While it might be nice to quickly look at the ocean floor it’s really not worth the risk of getting something stuck under your contact lenses.

Don’t rub your eyes while you’re surfing

While you might be tempted to rub your eyes to alleviate any irritation caused by your contacts it’s only going to make things worse.

If you’re starting to get sore or itchy eyes while you surf your much better off heading in to try and remedy the situation than vigorously rubbing more sand into your eyes.

Don’t surf after heavy rain or close to river mouths

Heavy rain can lead to pollution running into rivers and eventually reaching the sea. This micro debris is filled with harmful bacteria and is responsible for lots of eye infections in surfers, even without contact lenses.

Surfing after heavy rain can lead to a myriad of other infections too with raw sewage and animal waste all running off into the ocean.

Use a saline solution rinse after every surf

To properly rinse your eyes free of any unwanted visitors you’ll need to use a slaine solution that can safely risne your eye removing sand, salt and even microorganisms left over by ocean water.

You can pick up a large bottle of saline solution for relatively cheap but make sure to change after the best before date.

Seek medical attention if symptoms persist

If you find yourself suffering with contact lenses every time to you surf then you need to seek advice and help from a medical professional.

They can help you with the best course of action and may recommend not to surf with contact lenses for the forseeable.

Consider surfing in a wave pool

Surfing in a wave pool removes lots of the issues that can normally occur while surfing with contact lenses.

Salt and sand are both removed from the equation and you don’t need to duck dive so it’s close to perfect for surfing with contacts in.

Common questions about surfing with contact lenses

We answer som of your most common questions around how to surf with contact lenses.

How do surfers surf with contacts?

Surfers who opt to surf with their contacts in will normally use disposable lenses and rinse thoroughly with a saline solution after every surf. This helps reduce any risk of damaging the eye or getting an infection.

What happens when you get in the ocean with contacts?

Contact lenses act as a barrier to any debris both entering and exiting the eye. While this can provide some defence the chance of microorganisms or bacteria getting stuck under your contact lense mean it’s not reccomended.

Can you open your eyes in the ocean with contacts?

We strongly recommend keeping your eyes closed underwater as you duck dive underneath waves.