Why Keep Contacts Out While Using a Hot Tub or Sauna?

Warming up winter days with a dip in the hot tub

It’s a bit too cold to be swimming outside where I live, but our neighbors have a hot tub that makes for a good winter swimming pool.

hot tub

As I stepped into the hot tub a few days ago (actually jumping in because I was so cold), some of the water splashed into my eyes. I was wearing my contact lenses and wondered, “Is this unhealthy for my eyes and/or lenses?”

A few days later I was visiting my America’s Best optometrist and asked him about this potential health concern. His thoughts were that it’s better to leave your lenses out if you are going in a hot tub or even a sauna. Here are the two main reasons why:

  1. The Heat
    In saunas or steam rooms, the heat can do some damage to your contact lenses as it dries them out. The fit of your contacts impacts how well you see, and high temperatures can even change the shape of your contact lenses. Though the hot tub isn’t hot and dry, like the sauna, the steamy heat from the water could have a similar impact on your lenses.
  2. The Germs
    Optometrists generally recommend leaving your contact lenses out while visiting a swimming pool, hot tub or sauna because of bacteria found in the water. Many of the most dangerous bacteria are very rare, but if you’re using a public hot tub or pool, you can’t be sure who else has used it and when it was last cleaned. Mold and other germs tend to thrive in warm moist environments. If you see growth anywhere close to the water or around the sauna, just skip your dip in the water!

If you have to wear your contacts into a hot tub or sauna, it’s not the end of the world. Just be sure to clean and disinfect your lenses well as soon as you can after you get out. If you do feel any changes after putting them back in, contact your America’s Best optometrist right away.

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