Swimming Pools and Eye Health

  • BY Lainie Petersen

man underwater with gogglesSwimming pools are great for exercise, cooling off and de-stressing. What’s less fun is getting red, irritated eyes after a refreshing dip. Recently, the Wall Street Journal‘s Heidi Mitchell interviewed Dr. Glenda Secor, an optometrist and chair of the American Optometric Association’s contact lens and cornea section about why swimming in chlorinated pools can be so irritating on the eyes.
Here are some interesting bits from the article:

  • Chlorine doesn’t cause long-lasting harm to your eyes – Dr. Secor insists that there is no evidence that swimming in chlorinated water will cause long term damage to your eyes or eyesight. It can, however, cause inflammation of the cornea.
  • Chlorine keeps pool bacteria down to reasonable levels, but doesn’t completely eliminate it
  • Your “tear film,” which normally protects your corneas, washes away while swimming, leaving your cornea vulnerable to bacteria in the water
  • Swimming pool users can catch conjunctivitis or “pink eye,”  as well as more serious infections, from swimming pool water.
  • Lake and ocean water can likewise carry infectious bacteria and irritate the eyes.


Protecting Your Eyes in the Pool

While there isn’t much you can do about bacteria in pool water, there are some things that you can do to reduce protect your eyes from infection and reduce discomfort. Wearing goggles while swimming is probably the best defense against bacteria and irritation from chlorine exposure. Using lubricating drops after being in a pool also helps.


Sun Protection

In addition to concerns about chlorine and bacteria, outdoor pool users should also wear adequate eye protection during daylight hours. UV rays can cause both eye irritation and damage, so wearing sunglasses is important. Zenni adds UV coating to every pair of prescription lenses it sells and offers sunshade and tinting options on many of its eyeglasses. In addition, shoppers can also check out Zenni’s range of non-prescription sunglasses for men, women and children.