Contact kens wearers: any advice about Acanthamoeba?

I went to my eye doctor today and got read the riot act about paddling wearing my soft contacts. He said no fresh water whatsoever should touch my lenses because of the risk of Acanthamoeba, which is present in all fresh water and the lens can hold it on your eye. I had no idea this was an issue. I’m blind without my lenses and have zero peripheral vision in glasses. Anyone here know about this and if so what do you do?

Don’t wear contacts but my curiosity got the best of me so I looked it up. Came across this site,

Interesting to note the AOA also states that “However, Acanthamoeba keratitis has been found in almost all water sources—from pools to hot tubs to showers.” The CDC says the organism that causes the infection is also present in the air.

I know there are “throw-away” lenses available and wonder if that would make a difference as the information I’ve read indicates that improper cleaning/storage of the contacts is an added risk. How about a good pair of swim goggles? Wouldn’t be noticeable under sunglasses.

After doing a search on “contact lenses and paddling”, I’ve discovered lots of paddlers wear them - including some from our community here.

I would think disposable lenses would greatly reduce the risk. I used to always wear non-disposable soft contacts when paddling, because I would always be rolling but I’ve gotten lazy and often wear glasses now. I just put the glasses in my vest when i roll, or I’ll wear some prescription sunglass that stay on when I roll.

Now I wear disposables If I’m going out in surf,. But I usually wear cheap sunglasses anyway, because having astigmatism in both eyes wave splash tends to send my contacts reeling and I’m half blind for a few seconds or more. The sunglasses reduce that. I never wear contacts for more than 4-6 hours because they will irritate my eyes if I leave them in longer.

My eye doctor never mentioned Acanthomoeba to me, and he knows I paddle.

How about LASIK? Never worry about glasses or contacts again. At least, that’s the pitch.

Thanks. Maybe the disposables are the way to go. I also have astigmatism. Yeah, this is the first time any doctor said anything to me about it. It kinda threw me for a loop!

I’m too chicken for LASIK. Too many potential issues.

Recently got back into contacts. My Optometrist, knew that I fish and paddle, as we ‘had’ to have the over 40 talk, about the need to get bifocals some time in the future…I was complaining about how would I tie my knots and whatnot…he suggested a regular pair of disposable lenses and the need for reading glasses vs left eye/right eye Distance/Near. Everything was on the table, but not once was Acanthamoeba brought up.

With all of the Red Tide in the Gulf, I’ve been sticking to fresh water, but have had limited time in general to paddle.

All in all, after a day of paddling, take out the lenses.

Yeah. So I wear monthly lenses and of course the daily ones will require a whole new prescription. So I guess I’ll have to go back and get that and order a supply to use when paddling. That’s sure an unforeseen paddling-related expense! Oh well!

The only reason I have ever worn contacts when paddling is for rolling/surf. If you aren’t doing those, why not just wear glasses?

I’m so near-sighted I have virtually no peripheral vision in glasses, and because of my astigmatism the lenses must be quite small. They really limit my field of vision, and I’m totally unused to wearing them for more than an hour in the mornings inside.

@Doggy Paddler said:
Thanks. Maybe the disposables are the way to go. I also have astigmatism. Yeah, this is the first time any doctor said anything to me about it. It kinda threw me for a loop!

I’m too chicken for LASIK. Too many potential issues.

Both of my son in laws wore glasses their entire lives. Both had LASIK a few years ago with no issues since.

Serious complication rates for LASIK are below 1%. Put another way, that is almost 1 person in 100 who will have a serious complication. That’s too high for me, but I’m very happy for all the people for whom it works well.

Some pretty scary information. I hadn’t heard about that before and have paddled with soft lenses for around 40 years.


I’ve been swimming and boating in my lenses for decades as well, and this is the first time I’d heard about it. The doctor said the CDC has been telling optometrists to alert their lens-wearing patients.

I’d have to be almost blind before I’d have LASIK. No way I’m taking even a 1 percent risk with my eyes.

I just went for my annual eye exam and contact lense prescription yesterday. This is only my second time w/this particular eye doc due to insurance changes. I wear soft contacts daily for 2 weeks and then pitch them. I don’t sleep in them.

I told him that I roll at least weekly (1-2 hours/rolling session) in a not too pristine fresh water lake and always wear my contacts. I occasionally wear goggles and always wash my eyes & eyelids (inside and out) w/baby shampoo after rolling (obviously remove contacts first). He told me about this interesting organism and showed me several scary pics on google.

His recommendation was to wear glasses for rolling. He also gave me some OCuSoft lid scrubs and Clear Care Plus (hyrogen peroxide cleaning solution) to use if glasses don’t work out and said to wear swim goggles if wearing contacts.

I ordered a pair of prescription RecSpecs w/transition lenses as they had a good sale going on plus my discount for ordering a years supply of contacts.

Roll safe!