Navigating Sandy Situations: Dealing with Sand in Your Eye While Wearing Contact Lenses

Summer days often bring with them the excitement of beach trips, and for many, swimming with contact lenses is a common practice. However, getting sand in your eye while wearing contacts can be a painful and potentially harmful experience. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to handle this situation effectively.

Understanding the Risks

Before diving into the steps to take when you get sand in your eye while swimming with contacts, it's crucial to understand the risks involved. Sand particles can scratch the surface of your eye, leading to corneal abrasions. Moreover, wearing contact lenses increases the risk of trapping sand particles against the eye, potentially causing more significant damage.

Immediate Actions

  1. Do Not Rub Your Eye: The first instinct might be to rub your eye, but this can cause the sand to scratch your cornea. Instead, keep your eye closed or blink gently to allow tears to naturally wash out the particles.

  2. Remove Your Contact Lenses: Carefully remove your contact lens from the affected eye. This reduces the risk of trapping sand underneath the lens, which can cause further irritation or damage.

  3. Rinse Your Eye: Use clean, fresh water to gently rinse your eye. If you're at the beach, it's best to use bottled water or saline solution. Avoid using tap water as it may contain microorganisms that can lead to infections.

  4. Inspect Your Eye: After rinsing, look in a mirror to see if any visible sand particles remain. If you can still see sand, repeat the rinsing process.

Post-Immediate Care

  1. Rest Your Eyes: After addressing the immediate issue, give your eyes some rest. Avoid wearing contact lenses for a while to allow your eye to recover.

  2. Monitor for Symptoms: Keep an eye out for persistent redness, pain, or blurred vision. These symptoms might indicate a more serious injury, such as a corneal abrasion.

  3. Use Artificial Tears: Over-the-counter lubricating eye drops can help soothe your eye and aid in the healing process.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If symptoms persist or worsen, it's crucial to seek medical attention. A healthcare professional can examine your eye, possibly using a fluorescein dye to highlight any scratches on the cornea. They can also prescribe medication or treatment if necessary.

Prevention Tips

  1. Consider Prescription Swimming Goggles: If you need vision correction while swimming, prescription goggles are a safer alternative to contact lenses.

  2. Wear Protective Eyewear: Sunglasses or goggles can help shield your eyes from sand and other irritants.

  3. Daily Disposable Lenses: If you must wear contacts, consider daily disposables that you can discard after swimming.

  4. Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes: Train yourself to avoid rubbing your eyes, especially when you feel something in them.

  5. Keep Your Hands Clean: Always ensure your hands are clean before handling contact lenses to minimize the risk of introducing contaminants to your eyes.


Getting sand in your eye while wearing contact lenses can be an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation. By following these steps, you can effectively manage the issue and minimize the risk of eye injury. Remember, prevention is key, and considering alternatives like prescription swimming goggles can offer a safer swimming experience. Stay safe and enjoy your time at the beach without compromising the health of your eyes.