Can You Wear Contacts Kayaking?

Have you ever tried kayaking with your prescription glasses on? Water splashes on them, or they steam up, obscuring your vision. If you try to wipe the mist away, it only makes matters worse, leaving smears and a film of water. So what other options do you have? Can you wear contacts while kayaking?

Most eye health professionals advise against wearing contact lenses during water sports. Despite this, many kayakers wear contact lenses while kayaking. It is critical to rinse your eyes and clean and disinfect your contact lenses after exposure to the water to prevent infection and irritation. 

Many people have a visual impairment and refuse to let it prevent them from doing their favorite sports and hobbies. Water sports such as kayaking pose a slightly higher challenge to coping with the need for corrective vision aids, but many people do it, and so can you. 

That said, there are some things you need to know to stay safe while kayaking with contact lenses.  

Is It Safe To Wear Contacts While Kayaking?

Opticians and ophthalmologists generally advise against wearing lenses during water sports. They list several risk factors. 

  1. The contact lens can fold over and damage the eye.
  2. Pathogens in the water attach themselves to the lens, creating a high risk of eye infection.
  3. Sand or debris particles may get trapped between the lens and the eye. These can scratch and damage the eye severely. 
  4. You may lose your contact lens.

These restrictions apply to sports where you are immersed in the water, including your eyes.

Kayaking is slightly different. You sit on the water inside the kayak. However, there are times when you may be splashed in the face or fall into the water.  

Most kayakers feel it is safe to wear contacts while kayaking. In many respects, it is easier than wearing glasses as the risk of steaming up or getting covered by a film of water is less. 

When splashed with water, the human eyes close quickly. This limits the amount of water that enters your eyes. In addition, blinking naturally clears excess water from your contact lenses, allowing you to keep your vision clear.  

If you kayak with contact lenses, it is essential to clean and sterilize them thoroughly when you are finished kayaking for the day. 

To clean and sterilize your lenses, ensure you use a good saline solution. Never use tap water, as it doesn’t contain the disinfectant properties the lenses require, which can result in harmful bacteria and pathogens sticking to your contacts. 

The eyes are susceptible to infection, and natural water bodies contain organisms and bacterial pathogens. These microscopic organisms can attach themselves to the lenses causing nasty eye infections. 

You can lessen the chance of contracting infections by cleaning your lenses using your regular cleaning solution. You should also rinse your eyes with sterile saline solution several times while kayaking and immediately afterward.  

Are Some Contact Lenses Better Than Others?

Soft daily disposable contact lenses may be more easily displaced or washed from your eye if you land in the river. Most people prefer permanent contact lenses for kayaking or other water sports. However, some people keep permanent lenses just for kayaking and use disposable lenses at other times. 

Other people prefer to use disposable contact lenses and throw them away after kayaking. They feel this protects them better against infections. 

Contact lens manufacturers have produced new lenses with increased stability. These lenses would be beneficial for use in kayaking.

Is There A Way To Stabilize Your Lenses?

When the water gets rough, and you are constantly being splashed in the face, you may face the alarming situation where your lens rotates in your eye. You do not want blurred vision in the middle of a rapid.

Tears are saline, and the salinity causes the contact lenses to float slightly in the eye. One tip is to splash water into the eyes to reduce the salinity. This will cause the contact lenses to adhere more closely to the eye.

If you splash water into your eyes just before going into rough water, it should help your contacts stick more firmly in your eyes. If you have time, it is preferable to use clean drinking water or saline rather than river water. 

Should I Wear Goggles With My Lenses?

Some professionals recommend that people wear goggles over their lenses. This is the safest for eye health as it prevents the water river from getting into the eyes. 

Prescription swimming or surfing goggles are available from opticians, and these are considered the safest eyewear for water sports. 

The problem with prescription or regular goggles is that they steam up and get covered with water splashes. This makes them unpopular with some kayakers, despite their safety.

Prescription surfing or swimming goggles can be tinted to act as sunglasses. The tinting provides additional eye protection from damage from ultra-violet rays. When kayaking, you are exposed to ultra-violet rays from direct sunlight and light rays reflected from the water.   

Many eye health professionals recommend that people who spend a lot of time outdoors wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from harmful sunlight. People with lighter-colored eyes are even more at risk of damage from the sun’s rays.  

What Happens If I Lose My Contacts?

Unfortunately, despite all your precautions, you may lose your contact lenses. This situation often occurs when the water is rough, there is a lot of splashing, or you accidentally fall out of the kayak.  

It’s advisable to keep a backup pair of glasses or contacts in your kayak. This is extremely important if you can’t see well without the contacts. Keep the glasses or lenses in a floatable container with your other valuables.

If you find your old pair, don’t put them back in until you have cleaned and disinfected them.

Final Word

Although health care professionals advise against wearing contact lenses during kayaking, many kayakers wear them anyway. This is because they are frustrated by goggles or spectacles that steam up and get a film of water that obscures their vision. 

You can mitigate the risks by cleaning and sterilizing their lenses after and before using them. Wearing prescription surfing or swimming goggles is considered the safest eyewear for water sports.  

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