Health Watch - Fun in the Sun: Water and Contact Lenses

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’ve been talking about having fun in the sun, especially around the lake or swimming pool. Drowning isn’t the only potential risk associated with water. Swimming in fresh water could be dangerous for contact lens wearers.

Dr. Dwight Cavanagh, an ophthalmologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says there’s an amoeba that lives in rivers, lakes and ponds that can bind to contact lenses and damage the cornea. If the infection isn’t treated, it can cause blindness or require a cornea transplant. The infection is rare, but the consequences are serious, so it’s safest to avoid wearing contact lenses when swimming in fresh water. It can also be risky to shower while wearing lenses or to use tap water to rinse lenses. If you’ve swum in fresh water and your eyes become red and sore and you have reduced vision, see a doctor right away.

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


July 2009

Health Watch is heard Monday through Friday nationwide on ABC Satellite Radio. Call your local radio station and ask if they carry the program.