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Here’s why you should always take your contacts out before a swim

Anyone who wears contact lenses will know how easy is it is to get lazy from time to time. But you NEED to take them out every once in a while. Particularly when you go for a swim.

Hopefully you weren’t waiting for this article to tell you that swimming with your contacts in is a bad idea. But in case you needed an extra reminder, you might want to check out some recent findings published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

It seems that forgetting (or neglecting) to take out your lenses before jumping in for a quick dip can put you at risk of some pretty serious eye infections. And if you’re unlucky enough to get a dose of Acanthamoeba living under your lens, you could be in for a nasty surprise.

The water-dwelling microorganism Acanthamoeba thrives in the small gap between the contact lens and the eyeball, and once it has a foothold, it can result in an infection-related condition known as Acanthamoeba keratitis.

And the symptoms of that condition could involve pain, redness, swelling, ulcers inside your eyeball, thinning of your eye tissue, and even blindness. Yikes.

In some cases, patients with the condition needed surgery on their eyeballs. That doesn’t sound like much fun at all.

Although the condition has been documented worldwide, the study itself was looking at cases from Australia over the last few decades. Researchers looked into 34 reported cases of Acanthamoeba keratitis in Melbourne, which occurred over the span of about two decades.

Their findings? In more than 85% of cases, the victims had either gone swimming with their contact lenses in, or they’d rinsed the lenses with tap water.

It’s completely understandable why people would leave their lenses in. After all, it can be a hassle to remove them, especially if you’re wearing a swimsuit and have nowhere to put them, or if there’s a lot of sand around.

But now that you know about Acanthamoeba keratitis, no more excuses: either take them out before you dive in or don’t wear them at all on days when you plan to swim. That would probably be the time to put on that old pair of glasses you never use.

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