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Summer Sports: LASIK vs. Contacts For Popular Water Activities

April 5, 2012

Enjoy your warm weather with vision correction that’s best suited for you.

Now that we have officially entered the gorgeous spring weather, it is time to say farewell to our winter wardrobes once and for all and break out the bathing suits and water wings for another warm-weather season spent alongside the water. Whether you are lucky enough to live near a lake or ocean, or you enjoy cooling off in the comfort of your very own backyard swimming pool, there is no shortage of excuses to jump in the water and have fun beneath the hot spring and summer sun.

Unfortunately, if you are a water enthusiast with less than 20/20 vision, you may have had to find out the hard way how difficult it can be to fully enjoy your wet water activities while having to also worry about seeing clearly and keeping track of your glasses or contact lenses. Or, perhaps you are one of the millions of people who have lost a contact lens in the swimming pool and faced a blurry afternoon spent seaside.

If you are someone who frequents the beach in the summer months, or you are a self-proclaimed “water log” as soon as the weather turns hot, it may be time to re-think your contact commitment and decide whether or not LASIK eye surgery may be the best option for you. To help you get started with your decision, we have put together some basic information about LASIK vs. contacts when it comes to popular outdoor water activities:

Can I Swim With Contacts In?

Contact lenses really should not be worn for swimming, bath tubs, in hot tubs, or in any other kind of water activity, as it can pose a serious safety risk.  The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended that contact lenses not be exposed to any form of water, due to potential sight-threatening eye complications. Acanthamoeba and some other forms of bacteria present in water can become attached to the surface of contact lenses. This can predispose contact lens wearers to undue risk and result resulting in serious infection.

Will LASIK Prevent Me From Participating In Water Activities?

Generally, most doctors advise their patients not to swim in a pool for the first week after the procedure and to wait at least two weeks to go in the river, ocean or lake. This is because your eyes will be very vulnerable to infection following surgery. Plus, on top of the bacteria which can still be found in chlorinated water, chlorine causes dry eye.

Activities such as swimming, waterslides, snorkeling, sailing, water skiing, wind surfing, kayaking and surfing can begin after two weeks WITH eye protection. You may resume swimming, waterslides, scuba diving, snorkeling and sailing after one month without eye protection.

What If I Play Water Sports?

For someone who is an active member of sports and contact water activities, LASIK is almost always the best way to go, as it provides far less risk of losing the clarity of your vision. The biggest concern that people have about playing water sports following their LASIK surgery is the chance of dislodging the flap.  While this is extremely rare, it could occur in cases where extreme force contacted the eye, particularly during the first few weeks following LASIK.  For those concerned with getting hit in the eye following surgery, surface treatments such as LASEK, which involve no flap creation, may be a safer alternative.  This was the procedure of choice for LASIK for the Gold’s Tim Hutton, a member of the US Olympic Water Polo Team.

For more information about how LASIK eye surgery could improve your summer activities and help you say goodbye to contacts once and for all, be sure to contact OCLI today.

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