Can You Snorkel with Contact Lenses?

Last Updated: April 14, 2023

The main reason for snorkeling is to watch and enjoy the mesmerizing underwater life. Clear eyesight is, therefore, an essential factor.

But can you snorkel with contact lenses? Well, yes you can snorkel with contact lenses, although you’d need to put some measures in place.

Generally, contacts are better and more convenient compared to ordinary glasses since they are not as cumbersome nor do they need adjustments when snorkeling. You only slide them on and are good to go as if you had normal eyesight.

Read on for key information to consider about snorkeling with contact lenses.

Is it Safe to Snorkel with Contact Lenses?

snorkeling with contact lenses

It is technically safe to snorkel with soft contact lenses so long as you use them carefully.

However, eye experts advise against snorkeling with contacts due to the chances of an infection. Also, in extreme cases a serious eye problem that you can get from the numerous marine pathogens.

The medics are also in particular against the use of hard gas-permeable contacts since the water pressure makes them stick to the eyes, and scratch the cornea.

What Happens if I Get Sea Water in My Contacts?

If the seawater happens to get into your contact lenses, close your eyes completely or squint them to prevent them from washing out. The safest option is to completely close your eyes to drain the water that is absorbed by the lenses.

You can also opt to get out of the water to rinse and disinfect the lenses with a cleaning solution. While at it, you can also clean your eyes with eye drops.

Can You See Clearly Underwater with Contacts?

Sure, you can see clearly when snorkeling with contact lenses. Contact lenses will correct your vision (if you have poor vision) and you’ll be able to watch and identify marine life with ease.

When submerged in the water, images appear bigger than they are in real life. The visual anomaly is caused by refraction of the water and air trapped in your mask or light reflection. The process is a natural vision correction that enhances your visibility and aquatic experience.

Risks of Wearing Contact Lenses in the Ocean

If you have defective eyesight, it is important to use a vision corrective measure that is safe and comfortable for you.

Though snorkeling with contact lenses seems better, more comfortable, and highly convenient compared to regular glasses, it has some risks. Doctors also advise against it warning that contact lenses and water do not mix.

Here are some of the risks you may encounter when snorkeling with contact lenses.

Loss of the Lenses

The contact lenses are not glued but loosely placed on your eyes. If water gets to them, they may slide off and get lost in the ocean.

Eye Infections

Snorkeling takes place in expanse waters which can easily get into your eyes in spite of your thorough preparation and protection against it.

Even though salt water should not damage your eyes, the sea has many harmful microorganisms which could be absorbed and trapped in the contact lenses. These pathogens can cause serious eye infections.

Irritation From Grit or Sand

The aquatic environment has lots of sand and grit which could, unfortunately, get into your eyes as you put on the contacts. The particles may irritate your eyes or scratch the lenses. The trapped dirt can also cause cornea abrasions.

Cornea Abrasion

If you happen to snorkel with rigid gas-permeable contact lenses, they stick to the eyes if you dive deeper where the water pressure is high. The close contact of the lenses with the eyes may scratch the cornea causing abrasions. In extreme situations, the abrasions could lead to cornea ulcers.

Eye Redness, Dryness, and Inflammation

Soft contact lenses tighten and get stuck on your eyes when exposed to water. This makes the eyes get itchy and irritated. The absorbed and trapped water in the lenses can cause eye inflammation, redness, or dryness.

Folding or Bunching Lenses

When your contact lenses tighten or get stuck to your eyes after being exposed to water, they can fold up, and blur your sight. In such circumstances, you have no option but to get out of the water to remove them.

Related: Can You Wear Contact Lenses When Scuba Diving?

Tips for Snorkeling with Contact Lenses

diving with contact lenses

Even though opticians are against the use of contact lenses when snorkeling, sometimes it could be the only option you have. It can be tricky to handle contact lenses if you are not used to them since they require extreme care to keep them safe and sterile.

Follow the tips below when you snorkel with contact lenses:

  • Have a fitting snorkel mask: Your mask should snugly fit your face to prevent any leaks that could get to your eyes, and the lenses.
  • Ensure your hands are clean: As you wear your lenses, ensure your hands are clean before you handle them to avoid contamination. A thorough sanitization will prevent eye infections.
  • Remove any particles from your fingers: Even though the hands might be clean, there is a possibility of them having some particles that could hurt your eyes. Ensure you do not have any debris such as sand or dirt.
  • Wear the lenses while on the shores: Wear your lenses on the shores even though you plan to ride on a boat to get to your location. A rocking boat is not a conducive environment from which to wear contacts since you need steady hands to do so hassle-free.
  • Disinfect the contacts after snorkeling: Remove the contacts after you snorkel and disinfect them for 24 hours, even if the sea water didn’t get into your eyes. It will sterilize and keep them safe after the underwater exposure.

What Other Options Do I Have Instead of Contact Lenses?

Contact lenses are convenient means of correcting defective eyesight. However, it is another ball game if you like to snorkel since they are not always the best option for water adventures.

Instead of contact lenses, you can use the alternatives below to snorkel:

  • Purchase a vision-correcting mask: Invest in a snorkel mask that comes with prescription or corrective lenses.
  • Customize your mask: Have a dive shop fix prescription glasses on your snorkel mask
  • Apply do-it-yourself ingenuity. Use do-it-yourself skills to fix an old pair of your spectacles on the snorkeling mask.
  • Make bonded lenses: To make bonded lenses, you shape and then glue your prescription lenses on the snorkeling mask. You shouldn’t, however, use bonded lenses if you have strong prescription glasses or eye astigmatism.

How Do You Snorkel if You Wear Glasses?

You can snorkel while wearing glasses as long as you make some adjustments. There are several things you can try to ensure you enjoy your exploits.

You can modify and fix your glasses on the snorkel, purchase a mask that has corrective or prescription glasses, or have a professional insert the prescription lenses in your mask.

Contact lenses are also a convenient alternative to ordinary glasses so long as you follow the required tips to avoid eye infections.

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