Health Watch —Summer Travel: Fresh Water Swimming

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about summer travel to exotic locales and how that can affect your health. Whether you’re going far away or staying close to home, if you wear contact lenses, you should be careful about where you swim.

Dr. Dwight Cavanagh, an ophthalmologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says you should avoid wearing contact lenses when you’re swimming in fresh water, such as rivers, ponds or lakes. That’s because there’s an amoeba that lives in these waters that binds with contact lenses. The infection that results can cause serious cornea damage if it isn’t treated. You also shouldn’t shower while wearing contact lenses, especially in areas where tap water isn’t properly treated. Always use sterile contact lens solution instead of tap water for rinsing or cleaning lenses. See a doctor if your eyes become red and sore and your vision decreases.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in eyes (ophthalmology).


July 2008

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