It’s that time of the year here in Texas, where we are spending a large majority of our time trying to keep cool in the intense summer heat. One of the most fun ways to keep cool during the summer is, of course, to take a dip in the swimming pool. From friends and family to barbecues and parties, we tend to find ourselves spending a lot of time in the backyard. If you or your family are often swimming in the pool, the question may have crossed your mind as to whether or not pool chlorine could negatively affect your eyes. Keep on reading to learn about how pool chlorine could affect your eyes…
Pool chlorine and your eyes
If you have ever spent a good amount of time in the pool, or perhaps even opened your eyes under the water while you are swimming, you may have noticed that afterwards you experience burning, watering, general irritation and/or redness of the eyes. This is because pool chlorine does affect your eyes. While you don’t really need to worry so much about long-term damage, it is still best to avoid over-exposure and take actions to protect your eyes while you are swimming.
Chlorine and tear film
There is a thin layer of tears that exists over both of your eyes to keep them moisturized, coated, and clear. This is called the tear film. Generally, you want to avoid direct contact with any sort of chemical to the eye, and although chlorine is put in the water to protect you from harmful bacteria and germs, it can also cause irritation to the eyes by disrupting and thinning that necessary layer of tear film. Even though the chlorine is meant to deter bacteria, it can actually end up inviting them into your eye by taking away the tear film. Several common eye problems that result from this are:
- Pink eye, aka, conjunctivitis
- Acanthamoeba keratitis
- Eye irritation, redness, and dryness
Chlorine concerns for contact wearers
If you must wear your contact lenses in the pool, it is best that you immediately rinse them after getting out of the water and avoid sleeping in them. You are at more of a risk when swimming with contact lenses because they can actually trap unwanted bacteria in the eye; without that tear film present, this can lead to eye infections, especially Acanthamoeba keratitis, which in serious cases can result in blindness.
How you can keep your eyes protected during pool time
- If you can, you should wear goggles. This will help to reduce any exposure of your eyes to chlorine.
- After swimming, you should use eye drops to make sure you flush out any pool water or bacteria that may have remained in the eye. This enables your tear film to rebuild any of the protective layers that were compromised.
- Don’t forget to wash your contact lenses as was previously mentioned to ensure you don’t incur any dangerous eye infections.
When it comes to keeping your eyes protected, you can never be too careful. And part of ensuring your eye protection is by regularly visiting your optometrist. If you are looking for a trusted, reliable, and caring eye doctor in Arlington, First Eye Care is here to help. Contact us today and let us help you and your family see things a bit more clearly.