I started swimming lessons last week and not as part of some New Year, New You thing; I can swim a little, but I need to be better at it so that I can keep up with my mermaid daughter, Emilia, in the sea.
Before going to my first lesson, I was getting my kit together and something niggled at me about swimming and contact lenses… I vaguely remembered being told not to swim in them, but I couldn’t remember why so I asked my Twitter friends if this was really something I had to worry about.
That’s when my friend Sarah introduced me to Irenie’s story:
— Irenie Ekkeshis (@reenwilson) March 24, 2017
One Saturday, Irenie wore her lenses as normal, but then three days later she was in terrible pain and couldn’t see out of her right eye. (Please follow this link to read her story in full.)
Irenie had contracted Acanthamoeba Keratitis, which is a contact lens related infection that left her blind in her right eye. It’s a rare, but devastating infection that can be caught by simply showering or swimming while wearing contact lenses.
Irenie now campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of water and lenses and as part of this she developed the above logo which can now be seen on some suppliers’ contact lens boxes. After seeing our tweets, she replied to me with her advice:
Yes, absolutely @smayman @JoMurricane – it’s not worth the risk. Prescription sunnies for the beach and goggles for swimming. Shower before you put them in too and you’re reducing your risk significantly. Seems like a faff but it’s actually fine. And better than the alternative! https://t.co/aWd1o30K1c
— Irenie Ekkeshis (@reenwilson) January 8, 2019
So, to answer to my original question, YES: wearing lenses and having contact with water – any water – very much IS something to worry about. If you’re a contact lens wearer, please follow Irenie’s advice, and if you’re not, please share her story and advice with any contact lens wearers you know.