The summer is here and that means more time spent in the swimming pool. While swimming is great exercise, it also exposes you to chlorine, which can take a toll on your skin, hair and eyes. Most of the dryness and irritation on the skin and hair is temporary, but chlorine is a chemical that can be damaging to the eyes.
Luckily, there are ways to safely swim without hurting your vision . In this post, we’ll cover the ways chlorine can affect your eyes and the different ways you can protect them from damage this summer.
Types of Eye Problems that Can Occur from Chlorine
Your eyes have a tear film on the cornea that acts as a protective barrier from germs and bacteria. However, chlorine strips away the tear film on the cornea, leaving your eyes more vulnerable to infection. When this happens, you can experience any of the following complications:
- Pink eye or conjunctivitis. This is a common eye infection that swimmers get. It happens because the tear film breaks down and germs get into the eye . Pink eye can be either viral or bacterial.
- Red, irritated eyes. If you spend a long day in the pool and sun, your eyes can get dehydrated. When this happens, you’ll notice redness and irritation. Also, because the tear film is stripped away, your vision may be temporarily blurred or distorted.
- Acanthamoeba keratitis. An amoeba is an organism that lives and spreads in the water. It can cause severe eye infections, particularly if it gets caught in between your eye and your contact lens. This can lead to corneal ulcers that can permanently damage your vision.
How to Protect Your Eyes While Swimming
Any time you go swimming, it’s important to take the proper precautions, especially if you have dry eyes or wear contacts. The best thing you can do is wear water-tight goggles with a strong seal. This keeps water and chlorine out of your eyes and allows you to enjoy being in the water.
If you wear contacts, it’s best not to wear them while swimming. However, we realize that this isn’t always possible, so at least remove your contacts after swimming and sanitize them with a cleaning solution. Most importantly, do not sleep in your contacts after swimming as this allows bacteria to grow.
Another way to prevent eye irritation is to use lubricating eye drops. This helps because it preserves your corena’s protective film and offers relief from redness and irritation. If you do experience these symptoms, they should subside shortly after swimming. If they happen to linger, or you notice additional symptoms, contact your eye doctor right away.
Empire Retina Consultants wants you to have fun this summer, but be sure to take these simple precautions to avoid chlorine-related eye infections.