What to know about swimming pools and your eye health

Swimming pools offer a refreshing escape from the summer heat, but have you ever considered the potential impacts on your eye health?

While swimming is a fantastic exercise and a fun recreational activity, it's crucial to be aware of the potential risks that pools can pose to your eyes. Let's explore the common eye health concerns associated with swimming pools and provide practical tips to safeguard your vision.

Chlorine and Eye Irritation:

Chlorine is widely used as a disinfectant in swimming pools to kill bacteria and maintain water hygiene. However, prolonged exposure to chlorine can cause eye irritation, commonly referred to as "swimmer's eye." The chlorine combines with organic matter like sweat, urine, and oils on our skin to form chloramines. These chloramines can lead to redness, itchiness, dryness, and a stinging or burning sensation in the eyes.

Preventing Chlorine-Related Eye Irritation:

  1. Wear Swim Goggles: Invest in a pair of well-fitting swim goggles to create a protective barrier between your eyes and the pool water. Ensure that the goggles create a snug seal to prevent water from seeping in.

  2. Rinse Before and After Swimming: Prior to entering the pool, take a quick shower to remove any sweat, lotions, or oils on your body that can react with the chlorine. After swimming, rinse off again to remove any residual chlorine from your skin and hair.

  3. Use Artificial Tears: Lubricating eye drops, known as artificial tears, can provide relief from dryness and soothe any mild irritation caused by chlorine exposure. Consult an eye care professional to find the most suitable option for your needs.

  4. Take Breaks and Blink Regularly: While swimming, remember to take occasional breaks from the water and blink frequently to help distribute tears across your eyes. This can alleviate dryness and minimize the impact of chlorine on your eyes.

  5. Stay Hydrated: Proper hydration is essential for maintaining overall eye health. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after swimming to keep your body and eyes adequately hydrated.

Other Pool-Related Eye Concerns:

Apart from chlorine-related irritation, swimming pool environments can present additional eye health challenges:

  1. Reducing Red Eyes: Red eyes after swimming can be attributed to a combination of chlorine, bacteria, and other impurities in the water. Following the aforementioned tips, especially using goggles and rinsing off, can help minimize this issue.

  2. Contaminated Water: Pools with inadequate water maintenance or inadequate chlorination can harbor harmful bacteria, including those that cause conjunctivitis (pink eye) or other infections. Choose well-maintained and properly chlorinated pools to minimize the risk of infection.

  3. Contact Lenses and Swimming: It's best to avoid wearing contact lenses while swimming, as they can trap chemicals and bacteria against your eyes. Instead, consider prescription swim goggles or a reliable daily disposable contact lens specifically designed for swimming.

By understanding the potential impacts of swimming pools on eye health and adopting preventive measures, you can continue enjoying the benefits of swimming while safeguarding your vision. Remember to wear proper swim goggles, rinse before and after swimming, and seek prompt medical attention if you experience persistent eye irritation or infection. Prioritizing your eye health will ensure a safe and enjoyable swimming experience for years to come.