Summer fun usually includes more time spent in the water, whether in a pool or at the beach.  Don’t let irritated eyes ruin your day in the sun. There are ways to protect your eyes when swimming. 

When it comes to pools and the chlorine to keep them clean, our eyes can take a hit.  There’s a thin layer of tears that coats our eyes called a tear film.  This tear film keeps our eyes hydrated, smooth, and clear.  Chlorine and some of the other chemicals in pools can wash away that moist layer, leaving our eyes itchy and red.  If you’re a frequent swimmer, you may develop dry eye where you don’t produce enough tears or the right quality of tears – making your eyes feel gritty and maybe even giving you blurry vision. 

Saltwater is a little better on our eyes since its something our eyes are more accustomed to.  Eye drops and contact solutions are often made up of water and salt, but certainly in lesser concentrations.  So, if you open your eyes under water in the ocean, or a saltwater pool, you’re going to feel some irritation and probably come up for air with red eyes.  While at the ocean, it’s easy to blame the salt as the culprit for your red eyes, but it’s not always the cause.  Sand, pollution, and bacteria mix with the ocean water and can lead to irritated eyes. 

So how can you protect your peepers? 

  • Give goggles a go!  Whether in a pool or at the beach, goggles shield your eyes from the water, keeping that protective tear film intact. 
  • Wash your eyes with water after swimming.  This will get chlorine out of your eyes and off your eyelids and lashes. 
  • Use eye drops before and after swimming to keep moisture in balance.  For really dry eyes, put thicker gel drops in before your swim and before using your goggles.  Michigan Eye Institute can recommend a drop for really dry eyes. 
  • Drink plenty of water.  You’d be surprised at how the more water you drink, the less dry and irritated your eyes are. 

Pool, hot tub, ocean, and lake water is bad business for your eyes.  Bacteria can grow on contact lenses, even after just one swim, and cause a corneal infection.  Because contacts sit in the eye for extended periods of time, the exposure to chemicals, bacteria, parasites, or fungi can cause a pretty severe problem, even vision loss.  Instead, go without your contacts and ask Michigan Eye Institute about prescription goggles.  

You take the time to put on sunscreen, a hat, and find a shady spot under an umbrella. Think about your eyes too.  And remember, swimming isn’t the only culprit of red, itchy eyes.  Other conditions may cause irritation and are worth checking out at an appointment with the Michigan Eye Institute. 

See our blog page for additional posts about eye care, contact lenses, eyeglasses, eye diseases, eye facts, and more.