Protecting Your Peepers in the Pool
We are smack dab in the middle of summer, and if you’re like me, I’ll bet you’re in the pool more than ever. Let’s face it… There’s just no better way to keep cool outdoors if you’re in South Florida.
However, with all of that time spent in the water, be it chlorine or salt, you may be finding yourself with eye concerns such as burning, redness, stinging or dryness.
That’s because the tear film of the eye — comprised of three layers that keep our eyes moist — can be compromised by chlorine and other chemicals used to keep the pool clean. And if you’re wearing contacts, that could cause even more irritation. Contact lenses and pool chemicals don’t mix well.
As a matter of fact, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “wearing contact lenses in any type of water — including a pool, hot tub, ocean or lake — puts you at high risk for a corneal infection. Bacteria can grow on the lenses even after just one swim. Because contact lenses sit in the eyes for an extended period of time, your eyes are continually exposed to chemicals, bacteria, fungi or parasites. That can lead to a painful infection, corneal damage, and even loss of vision.”
An obvious way to eliminate the problem? Wear goggles! We know — you don’t want to wear goggles every single time you swim, but… If you want your peepers protected, that’s your best bet. There are even prescription goggles available — ask your eye doctor — and they are definitely a worthwhile investment.
If you still insist on swimming without goggles, remember to keep your eyes closed under the water. Really. And if you do experience eye issues, you may read that it’s best to rinse your eyes with cool, clean water, but Florida Eye ‘s Barry Schechter, M.D., F.A.A.O. recommends sterile saline eye drops instead. “Sterile eye drops will NOT contain microbes and their salinity is similar to that of one’s own tear film so they are more likely to be soothing.”
And that goes for saltwater swimming too. Although saltwater is safer for the eyes (and skin and hair) than chlorine, it’s still a good idea to wear goggles. Aside from goggles, remember to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and consider using saline drops right after you get out of the pool — to flush out potential problems before they may begin.
Enjoy the rest of your summer!