Swimming Pools Presents Dangers for Your Eyes
Summer is officially here, and that means a plethora of summer activities are available for you and your family to enjoy. Whether that means lighting off fireworks this Fourth of July or spending the day out by the pool, you are sure to be spending plenty of time outside near a body of water. It is important to always remember proper eye safety when swimming to ensure your eyes are not harmed while enjoying the water.
Humans are not made to live under or function underwater like other marine mammals are. This can cause dysfunction and issues within our bodies. The surface of your eye is covered with a complex and thin tear film. This film keeps your eyes moist and hydrated while helping protect it from foreign bodies. However, chlorine and other chemicals in a pool can wash away this thin layer, leaving your eyes unprotected and often irritated.
To best prepare yourself for swimming in pools, you must understand the potential dangers it may have for your eyes.
Dangers of Swimming without Eye Protection
As mentioned previously, your eye’s tear film keeps your eyes moist and hydrated. Without it, your eyes are presented with a number of dangers that threaten its integrity.
According to a CDC report, there were nearly 500 outbreaks associated with recreational water from 2000 to 2014. In these outbreaks, as many as 27,000 cases were reported along with 8 deaths.
While owners of public and private pools try to keep their pools as clean as possible, there will always be that risk. Parasitic bacteria and bacterial infections are a great cause of concern for many swimmers. The most dangerous such infection is Acanthamoeba keratitis, which can often lead to the need for a corneal transplant. Many of these infections can also lead to serious threats to your vision and overall eye health.
Here are a few more dangers of swimming without eye protection:
- Dry Eye
- Parasitic Bacteria (such as Cryptosporidium)
- Red or Irritated Eyes
- Worn Down Tear Film
While the threat for long term vision loss is not too high, it can still occur. If you leave your eyes exposed to pool water for too long, the tear film of your eyes will continue to wear away, leaving you vulnerable to other more serious dangers.
Tips for Protecting Your Eyes
It is rather simple to go about protecting your eyes whenever you intend on going for a swim whether in a private or public pool. For many, these tips may seem common sense, but that does not take away from their importance.
- Wear Goggles: Arguably the simplest and most well-known eye safety tip for swimmers is wearing goggles. While some may think they don’t need them or that they look too goofy, they serve an important purpose. Goggles keep pool chemicals out of your eyes along with any other dangerous debris and bacteria, keeping your tear film intact. Make sure you purchase goggles that fit comfortably yet secure to your face, preventing any fogging or water to come in.
- Wash Your Eyes: After every swim, it can do you a great deal of good to rinse out your eyes even if you did have on goggles. Use a splash of fresh water immediately after exiting the pool. This rinse of fresh water helps wash out your eyes as well as your eyelids, eyebrows, and eyelashes of any excess chlorine.
- Use Eye Drops: If you do have any irritation in your eyes following time in a pool, use over-the-counter lubricating eye drops to help balance the chemistry in your eyes and ease any irritation. It may even help if you put a few drops in your eyes prior to swimming to help protect them during your swim.
- Take Out Your Contacts: There are many swimmers who suffer from near- or farsightedness who rely on the help of contact lenses to see clearly. However, it would be in the best interest of those wearers to remove their contacts prior to entering a pool. Your contacts give bacteria a platform to latch onto and build upon. They will also always wear away and can wear away onto your eyes. Water often gets stuck between the contact and your eye, increasing the chance of infection. However, they may help relieve irritation if they are put in after a swim.
Summer is the perfect time to spend outside with your loved ones out by the pool. While jumping into the water can help cool you down, it can also cause harm to your eyes if you don’t take proper care of them. Your eyes can suffer severe irritation or worse if not properly protected. The expert team at First Eye Care North Arlington possess the knowledge needed to effectively protect your eyes while in the pool.