Common Eye Concerns After Swimming And How To Avoid Them

Posted on: 19 June 2015

If you're a lover of pools and swimming, you've probably noticed that your eyes often sting and burn after contact with the pool water. This leads to a very good question: What causes eye problems while swimming? And how can you better protect your eyes? Here are the most common eye complaints and concerns from swimmers as well as how you can deal with them.

Swimmer's Eye

The phenomenon of burning and painful eyes after leaving the pool, often referred to as "swimmer's eye," is caused by the chemicals used to disinfect pool water. Such chemicals as chlorine and saline damage the thin tear film that keeps the eye lubricated and prevents bacteria from getting inside. Unprotected and without lubrication, the eye is exposed to all the other chemicals and bacteria in the water. This can lead to eye infections such as pink eye.

Dry Eyes

As with swimmer's eye, when the protective tear film is disrupted by pool chemicals, the eyes can be left dry and the cornea can even be irritated. These chemicals often cause natural tears to evaporate too quickly and reduce the liquid part of the tear film that lubricates the eyes.

Those who suffer from dry eyes normally or after swimming should use artificial tears to return the lubrication needed as soon as possible.

Contact Lenses in the Pool

Should you wear your lenses in the pool? While it may be fine for a period of time, it's not recommended for long-term swimming. Contact lenses can provide a structure for bacteria and microbes to grow on, putting the eye at risk for complications such as corneal ulcers and even diseases that can lead to vision loss.

How Can You Protect Your Eyes?

The best underwater protection for swimmers is watertight goggles. Goggles prevent direct contact with most pool chemicals and even allow the swimmer to use lubricating drops to prevent damage if necessary. And most optometrists can provide prescription goggles nowadays.

Whether or not you use goggles, always rinse your eyes with fresh water after swimming to remove any latent chemicals. And if you experience blurry or distorted vision, pain or draining fluid after swimming, seek medical attention immediately.

Swimming, like many other sports and outdoor activities, calls for special protection for your eyes. If you have any special concerns or ongoing eye ailments, be sure to work with an optometrist like Langley Optometry Clinic to ensure your safety in the pool.