What You Need to Know About Swimming Pools & Your Eyes

August 9th, 2021

Our eyes, windows on the world, must do a lot of self-cleaning to remain healthy. Tears, lightly spread across as a film, protect the eyes, and wash away dust, allergens, germs, and other contaminants. While this is an effective system most of the time, swimming, especially in swimming pools, can wash away tears and leave the eyes vulnerable to contamination and irritation.

Irritation and Contamination Risks for Eyes

The chlorine that is used to protect swimmers can also irritate your eyes. Recovery for healthy eyes is usually quick, though frequent swimmers may develop chronic problems which swim goggles can help prevent. Contact lens wearers should remove them while swimming. And you should especially avoid swimming after cataract and LASIK eye surgery as part of the post-operative recovery process.

What’s In the Water?

The CDC has information on the chemical challenges that our bodies face in swimming pool water, as well as general healthy swimming tips. Chlorine helps to neutralize typical amounts of infectious agents in the pool, which increase according to the pool’s use by large numbers of people. Some hardier germs may survive the chlorination, though, which can result in eye infections that take advantage of already irritated eyes. Rinsing the eyes with eye wash solution can help remove lingering pathogens.

Contact Lenses and Swimming

Contact lenses limit the eyes’ ability to use tears to remove potential infections from their surface. Contact lenses can also provide a place under the lens for corneal infections to take root, so they should not be worn while swimming.

Dry Eyes

After swimming in chlorinated water, people’s eyes are typically red and irritated from the chemicals. For regular swimmers, the lack of tear film after swimming can become a chronic condition, called “dry eye,” with blurry vision and irritation, which our top eye doctors in the Front Range regularly treat in many of our patients.

Pink Eye

When water washes away the protective tear film, germs have more access to the eye even in chlorinated water where some hardier germs may remain. An infection called pink eye, or conjunctivitis, can develop, which may require professional care if it lingers.

Simple Swimmers’ Eye Care

  • Don’t Wear Contacts While Swimming
  • Consider Swim Goggles
  • Use Eye Rinse and Eye Drops When Needed for Comfort
  • See Your Eye Doctor with Any Concerns

Your Expert Eye Doctors in the Front Range

ICON Eyecare and its leading eye doctors in the Front Range, specialize in cataract and LASIK surgery in the Denver metro area. Contact us for all your eye care needs.