Have you ever spent a day at the pool and noticed that your vision was a little blurry after? Have you looked in the mirror after swimming and noticed that your eyes were red? Chlorine is a chemical commonly used in pools for water purification and sanitation, but despite the benefits, it can also have some less than desirable effects on your eyes. If you are looking forward to enjoying the pool as warmer days approach, keep the following in mind, and keep your eyes protected from chlorine’s ill effects.
How Does Chlorine Harm the Eyes?
Our eyes are typically protected from outside bacteria and irritants with a tear film that coats the cornea. When exposed to chlorine, however, this tear film can be stripped away, leaving the eyes vulnerable to not only the chemical itself but also to pollutants that may still exist in the chlorinated water. Common eye conditions associated with chlorine exposure include:
- Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) – A viral or bacterial eye infection that is easily transmitted via water.
- Irritation – This includes redness and blurriness that occur with damage of the tear film. These symptoms are usually temporary and resolve without treatment.
Protecting the Eyes from Chlorine
Chlorine is still a necessity for pool sanitation and the rewards of eliminating the spread of water-borne bacteria and illness far outweigh the risks, so it’s a chemical you are sure to encounter again and again. However, rather than avoiding the pool altogether, take a few safety precautions to enjoy swimming while also keeping your eyes protected.
- Use water-tight goggles when swimming in a chlorinated pool. Not only will you be able to see clearly underwater, you eliminate the risk of eye irritation and infection.
- Do not wear contact lenses in the pool. Bacteria can become trapped between your eye and the lens and cause serious complications. If you do have to wear them, immediately clean with solution after leaving the pool.
- When experiencing the symptoms of chlorine irritation, use lubricating eye drops to help rebuild the tear film on your eyes.
These simple steps can help keep your eyes safe and healthy both during and after swimming. If you do happen to experience symptoms such as redness or blurriness, understand that these symptoms are a common side effect of chlorine exposure and that they will quickly resolve. However, should the symptoms persist an infection may be present. Contact Eye Specialists of Louisiana and request an appointment with one of our skilled ophthalmologists to assess your eye health.