Can You Go to Sauna With Contact Lenses?
Can You Go to Sauna With Contact Lenses?
Many of us are familiar with the feeling. When you switch to lenses from the long-worn glasses, the world seems to reappear in brand new colors. Contact lenses can give you a boost of confidence and make you feel like you don‘t have any problems with the eyes at all – so seamless and comfortable they are these days. However, despite the increased comfort, it is important to remember that contact lenses still are a foreign body placed on your vitally important vision organs. It is your responsibility to take full care of your eyes and give them some rest from the lenses. How? One of the most common questions from those wearing them is whether they can go to sauna while wearing contact lenses?
You probably know by now and have seen with your own eyes that there is a number of people who go to saunas as well as swimming or hot tub without removing their lenses. Moreover, they often boast about wearing their contact lenses all the time and being totally fine. Does it encourage you to do the same?
You should know before deciding that doctors and eye specialists have a solid opinion about going to sauna with contact lenses – it is not recommended. The biggest risk comes from having direct contact with the water which is everywhere in sauna – showers, swimming pool, and the steam. Other than that, high temperature at sauna can severely dry your lenses so that they become too stiff to wear or you damage them by rubbing your eyes. If you don‘t want to give up contact lenses in sauna completely, disposable lenses can be a good solution.
We will look through each of these cases carefully and try to explain what happens with the eye and the contact lens when you spend your time in sauna. We hope it will deepen your understanding and hopefully, will help you to take the right decision – the one for the sake of your own vision!
Contact Lenses and Their Contact with Water
The main activity of sauna itself – sitting or lying quietly and relaxing – is not somehow harmful to the eye. It is the water and the bacteria in it that can cause damage to the eye which ranges from mild to severe.
By going to the sauna with lenses, you simply take the risk of putting them into contact with water and giving a chance for the bacteria to move into your eye. Some of them live in all the forms of impure water, including that found in sauna or shower that you take before stepping into sauna. Acanthamoeba Keratitis is the medical name of the condition caused by these micro-organisms. They can attach themselves to the surface of the contact lens or hide beneath it and between the eye, and start thriving there. The result? Depending on the damage made it can range from red eyes to severe pain and even cloudy, blurred vision.
If you go to sauna with your contact lenses in, always clean them after finishing. Add some drops of lenses solution liquid and rub them with your fingers according to the instruction on the bottle. Then leave your lenses in the container to disinfect themselves. It might also be a good idea to try to avoid splashing water or avoid the drops often falling from the ceiling in the steamed saunas to make sure your eyes are safe from it.
Keep in mind that another trouble you can face is floating lenses. Water that comes into your eyes make lenses detach from the cornea, and they can freely move around – even to the sides of the eyeball where you cannot see anything. That is a particularly annoying case as sometimes it might take a visit to a doctor to “catch” them if you cannot do it by simply moving your eyeballs in circles.
Contact Lenses and the High Temperature at Sauna
Another thing that you should consider is the high temperature and its fluctuations in sauna. Depending on the type of sauna and your chosen position, the temperature can become considerably higher than the temperature of your body. The first thing that can come to your mind, of course, is how much more comfortable contact lenses are in this situation: unlike glasses, they cannot become covered by the steam and disturb your vision by collecting the fog from around. Indeed, you will be able to pierce the clouds of the steam with the contact lenses much better than if you still had worn the glasses. However, keep in mind that high temperature (especially considerably higher than the temperature of your body) dries the eyes, and so the contact lenses. That affects their quality and durability, even though it depends on how long you stay in the sauna and how often you go there wearing contact lenses.
A lot depends on what type of sauna lover you are: whether you can stay there just several minutes or you constantly enjoy it on the weekends for at least ten and more minutes. If you ran in there quickly only for your friends to stop teasing you, probably you will not have a chance to experience any negative symptoms of the sauna and contact lenses combination. Nevertheless, even several minutes at a hot sauna already are enough for your eyes to start getting drier. You will notice an increased need to blink or even rub your eyes (never do this with the contact lenses!) after sitting there for a while. Drying lenses can start to feel uncomfortable in the eye as if there are grains of sand. Again – never rub your eyes with the contact lenses on them, no matter how uncomfortable it feels.
Rubbing eyes, first of all, can cause severe damage to the lenses. You might break them by your own hands, and the separated parts can spread around the eyeball. Depending on the level of the damage, it might be a big trouble to collect them all without hurting the eye which, no need to say, will remain irritated after such a “procedure.” More than that, chronic eye rubbing which might be a case of going to sauna with the contact lenses, can lead to a condition, named Keratoconus. To put it simply, that is a condition when cornea changes its shape from round to a cone. Keratoconus is a beginning of blurred vision and possibly a need to replace cornea by a surgery.
Dry air, especially at those saunas without steam, can dry the lenses up to such level that they become too stiff to hold themselves onto the surface of the eye. If you don’t blink enough to constantly moisten the lens, you might be very surprised to realize at one point that your lens is simply gone. Don‘t panic though, most likely it was too dry to stick on the cornea and fell (rather than shifting to the invisible part of the eye. That is not very possible if you are sitting still and there is no direct contact with water as written above). Depending on how impaired your vision is, it will be very hard to find the dropped lens on the ground, especially in dim light. It can turn out to be a big problem for people with more-severe-than-average vision impairment whose cases require complicated and ordered-in-advance contact lens prescriptions. A lost lense can mean at least two weeks in glasses in the best case.
Disposable Lenses as a Solution
Removing lenses before going to sauna might not be a big problem for some people – let‘s be honest, it‘s not that much of activity there that they would necessarily need to see everything crystal clear. However, there is a big number of people with severe vision impairment for whom glasses or contact lenses is not a choice – it is a must. Jokes aside, some of them could hardly find the door or see their step without the additional help of the seeing equipment. What should they do? Apparently, it is quite a tough choice for them if they want to go to sauna, especially regularly, and stick to the recommendation of the vision experts at the same time.
Disposable contact lenses can be the best option for people with severe vision problems and for those who insist on going to sauna wearing lenses. Disposable lenses are particularly convenient because they can be thrown away straight after usage. A short period of wearing them will prevent accumulations of bacteria which carry the highest risk of severe eye diseases. It will not be such a big loss either if you lose one or even both of them in the sauna as they are easily replaceable. You will take advantage of their benefit if you use them specifically for sauna and replace them with your regular lenses straight after it.
All in all, going to sauna with contact lenses imposes several obvious risks, out which some can result in severe eye damage. It is highly recommended to remove them before enjoying sauna to be sure about the health of your eyes. On the other hand, even the most cautious experts agree that a couple of minutes of heat most probably will not have an obvious effect. Therefore, whether to go to sauna with contact lenses or not greatly depends on your lifestyle and sauna habits.