Can You Surf With Contact Lenses? | (2023 Update)

Last Updated March 17, 2023

The way the waters curl behind you as you rip the waves, how the tiny droplets of water splash like diamonds against the ocean – the view any surfer would give anything to see. It certainly helps to see and appreciate everything when shredding, but can you surf with contact lenses?

There has been a fair amount of debate regarding this question, but generally, eye experts advise that you shouldn’t wear contacts while surfing.

Why You Shouldn’t Surf With Contact Lenses

Surfing with contact lenses may subject you to a low risk for vision loss due to infections or abrasions that saltwater or sand can cause.  Some might say the low risk is worth taking. However, a risk is still a risk, no matter how small it is.

It is still best to have no risk involved with your eyesight in anything that you do, including surfing. To keep your vision in tiptop shape, you should follow this advice.

Surfing With Contact Lenses

Despite the warnings and recommendations that eye experts suggest, the urge to take risks still drives some surfers to surf with contact lenses. If you feel like trying to surf with contact lenses, here are some simple steps you can take to reduce your chances of vision loss vastly.

1. Wear disposable lenses only.

Eye infection is the most significant risk associated with surfing in contact lenses. Not only surfers but any contact lens wearer knows that weekly and monthly lenses cause infections all the time. Wearing disposable lenses reduces your risk for an eye infection because they are designed for single use only.

What you can do is to put fresh lenses in first thing in the morning, then take them out as soon as you are done for the day. Rinse your eyes thoroughly with an unexpired bottle of saline. Yes, they look well and fresh in the bottle, but they expire too. Make sure to check the expiration dates.

2. Don’t rub your eyes while out on the water.

As hard as it can be, try as much as possible not to rub your eyes while in the water. If you find yourself struggling to kick the urge at any time, imagine a grain of sand caught between your contact lens and eye. That should help you pull through.

3. Close your eyes before getting into the water. Don’t open them under.

Remember to keep your eyes closed underwater. Closing your eyes will help keep you from losing your contact lenses. It also keeps saltwater or sand from getting caught between your eyes and your contacts.

Once you’ve popped out, be sure to watch out for the waves coming at you. Close your eyes if the waves look like it is going to splash over your head.

4. Avoid swimming/surfing in polluted water.

As bad as it sounds, some cities and towns have sewage drains running directly into the ocean. Imagine the number of bacteria swimming in these oceans. Do your research on the waters you plan to surf. Otherwise, it would be like dipping your eyes with your contacts in waters with lots of bacteria

Imagine them getting stuck in your eyes. That is like an open invitation for an eye infection.


Ultimately, surfing with contact lenses is not recommended. No matter how advanced the technology for contact lenses is, they are still a foreign object you put in your eyes. That, combined with any foreign object brought by surfing (sand, saltwater, etc.), increases risks to your eyesight.

Remember to call the doctor at the first sign of eye trouble. If you notice any redness, swelling, blurry vision, excessive tearing, do not self-medicate. Call the doctor immediately.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: Are there any alternative eyewear solutions?

A: If you are an active surfer, the best way to deal with poor vision is to get Lasik done. This option could correct your eyes, and you will no longer have to wear contact lenses, not only during surfing but for all of your activities. Or, you can go with the good old pair of goggles.

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