Are You Able To Snorkel While Wearing Contact Lenses?

Cameron Profile Picture

Expert: Cameron – I have snorkeled for over two decades and have been a PADI certified diver for over three years. I also require prescription glasses to see and have had to come to making a decision to snorkel while everything is blurry or not at all, so am no stranger to this issue in the slightest. I acquired a solution for this about a decade ago and even though I still require glasses to see, I am able to snorkel anytime I feel like with my vision in tact.


Snorkeling is a captivating underwater experience, allowing us to explore the mesmerizing world beneath the waves.

For those who rely on contact lenses for clear vision, a common question arises:

Can you snorkel while wearing contact lenses?

Yes, you are able to snorkel while wearing contact lenses. However, contact lenses do not replace a snorkel mask and you will still need one while in the water. It’s generally not recommended and considered risky, but there are ways to mitigate this risk factor like using daily disposable lenses and rinsing your face with fresh water.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the advantages, preparations, and best practices for snorkeling with contact lenses, ensuring an enjoyable and visually rich underwater adventure.

Snorkeling with Contact Lenses

As mentioned above, you are able to wear contacts when you are out snorkeling, and there are risk factors associated with this.

Snorkeling opens doors to a world of vibrant marine life and breathtaking coral reefs.

Many enthusiasts wonder if they can fully experience this beauty while comfortably wearing their contact lenses.

Your decision to use contacts when snorkeling lies in understanding the nuances and taking the necessary precautions.

We will delve into the risks of snorkeling with contacts and how to mitigate them, advantages of using them, preparation and tips, and alternatives to wearing contacts when snorkeling.

Potential Risks and Considerations When Wearing Contacts While Snorkeling

Risks associated would be namely eye infections, the impact on your lens itself, losing your lens, and discomfort or irritation during your time snorkeling.

Water Entering the Eyes and Eye Infections While Snorkeling with Contacts

One common concern is the possibility of water entering the eyes while snorkeling.

Saltwater, chlorine, and microorganisms in the water can get trapped under your lenses, increasing your risk of eye infections.

These infections can be painful, cause vision problems, and require prompt medical attention.

There are many different kinds of germs in water that can cause eye infections, but a particularly dangerous germ—an ameba called Acanthamoeba—is commonly found in water sources.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Mitigate Eye Infections When Snorkeling

If you absolutely must wear contact lenses, opt for daily disposable lenses.

This way, you can discard them after each snorkeling session, minimizing the risk of infection from trapped microorganisms.

As soon as possible after snorkeling, rinse your eyes thoroughly with eye drops or other saline solutions.

If you do not have this use fresh, clean water to remove any residual saltwater, chlorine, or other irritants.

Impact on Lens Wear Duration

Woman Putting in Contact Lens
#1

Understanding how prolonged exposure to saltwater may affect lens wear duration is essential.

Salt water can also cause deterioration of the lens when it is exposed like this.

To mitigate this factor just ensure that you are using a daily use lens and dispose of it after your snorkel session.

Losing Contact Lenses While Snorkeling

Snorkeling involves movement and potential waves, both of which can dislodge a contact lens.

Losing a lens underwater can be stressful and frustrating, and retrieving it in murky water can be difficult, if not impossible.

Reducing Risk of Losing Lens When Snorkeling

If your contact lens becomes dislodged, immediately exit the water and carefully remove your mask to locate it.

Disinfect your lens before putting it back into your eye.

A well-fitting mask creates a seal around your eyes, minimizing the chance of water leaking in and dislodging your lenses.

Try on different masks before purchasing to ensure a snug, comfortable fit.

Discomfort and Irritation of Eye While Snorkeling

Saltwater and chlorine can irritate your eyes, causing discomfort and potentially dislodging your lenses.

Additionally, contact lenses can dry out more easily in the sun and saltwater environment, further amplifying discomfort.

Mitigating this factor includes exiting the water frequently to give your eyes a rest.

Ensure you are rinsing your lenses and eyes thoroughly after each snorkel session.

Advantages of Snorkeling with Contact Lenses

There are several risks and considerations associated with wearing contact lenses while snorkeling, as outlined previously

It’s important to maintain a balanced perspective and acknowledge that some individuals might still consider this option.

These benefits should not outweigh the significant risks and the strong recommendation to consult an eye doctor before snorkeling with contact lenses.

Pros of Snorkeling with Contact LensesCons of Snorkeling with Contact Lenses
Improved Visibility UnderwaterEye Infections
Less Obstructive and Wider VisionLens Wear and Duration
More Familiar if Used RegularlyDislodging or Losing Lens
Cost-EffectiveDiscomfort or Irritation

Assuming you are still considering weather you want to go this route to snorkel, we will highlight these advantages you can get with your contacts while in the water.

Improved Visibility Underwater

One significant advantage of wearing contact lenses while snorkeling is enhanced visibility.

Wearing glasses while snorkeling may fog up, be cumbersome with a mask, or not even applicable with your mask.

Contact lenses provide a clear and unobstructed view of the underwater wonders without those pitfalls compared to glasses.

These lenses also offer a wider field of vision compared to some prescription goggles, potentially providing a more expansive view of the underwater environment.

Convenience for Individuals Snorkeling with Vision Impairments

Contact Lens On Finger Tip
#2

For individuals with vision impairments, snorkeling with contact lenses can be a game-changer.

It eliminates the need to wear prescription goggles or struggle with blurry vision, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable exploration.

Some individuals who are accustomed to wearing contact lenses might find them more comfortable as well.

Snorkelers who already wear contact lenses regularly, using them for snorkeling might seem like a more cost-effective option compared to purchasing prescription goggles.

Preparation Before Snorkeling with Contact Lenses

We have gone through some steps or actions to take during your snorkel session, but here we will highlight what you need to do before getting in the water.

Consultation with an Eye Care Professional

Before embarking on a snorkeling adventure, it’s advisable to consult with an eye care professional.

They can provide valuable insights into your eye health, recommend suitable contact lenses, and address any concerns you may have.

Not all contact lenses are created equal, especially when it comes to water activities.

Opt for lenses designed for extended wear and discuss your snorkeling plans with your eye care provider to ensure compatibility.

Using Daily Disposable Lenses

Consider using daily disposable lenses for snorkeling.

They offer convenience and eliminate the need for cleaning and maintenance.

Simply discard them after use and enjoy a fresh pair for your next underwater adventure.

Securing Lenses with a Snug-Fitting Snorkel Mask

To avoid the risk of losing your lenses underwater, ensure your mask fits securely.

A snug-fitting mask is essential for preventing water from entering your eyes.

A well-fitted mask not only enhances visibility but also provides a protective barrier, keeping your contact lenses in place.

Likewise, ensuring your contact lenses fit properly is crucial.

Make sure they sit comfortably on your eyes without any irritation.

Apply Anti-Fog Solution

Snorkel Mask and Toothpaste

Fogging can be a common issue with snorkel masks, further compromising your vision and potentially causing you to rub your eyes, increasing the risk of dislodging your lenses.

Grab your mask and apply a cream or solution to prevent fog in your snorkel mask.

Alternative to Contact Lens – Prescription Snorkeling Masks

For those seeking alternatives, prescription snorkeling masks offer a viable solution.

Prescription goggles, specially designed with your specific prescription built-in, offer clear vision underwater while protecting your eyes from water and other elements.

This is the safest and most recommended option for anyone who needs vision correction while snorkeling.

Summary

Snorkeling is an incredible way to experience the underwater world, but it’s crucial to prioritize eye safety.

Consulting your eye doctor before snorkeling with contact lenses is essential.

They can provide personalized guidance based on your individual eye health and recommend the safest approach for you to enjoy your snorkeling adventure.

Remember, your eye health is paramount.

While the allure of snorkeling with contact lenses might seem tempting, prioritizing safe alternatives like prescription goggles will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the underwater wonders without unnecessary risks.

By following these tips and best practices, you can enjoy the beauty of the ocean without compromising your vision or eye health.


[Sources and References]

“Water and Contact Lenses Don’t Mix.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 Nov. 2022, www.cdc.gov/contactlenses/water-and-contact-lenses.html.

[Image Attribution and Licensing]

#1 Image by Martin Slavoljubovski from Pixabay
#2 Image by Martin Slavoljubovski from Pixabay