Posted on: 12 January 2015Share
Chlorinated swimming pools are not free of all germs. Some stubborn microbes may remain, and together with the chlorine, may cause eye damage if you don't protect your eyes while swimming. The extent of the damage depends on a number of factors, such as your duration of swimming and the level of chemicals in the pool. Here are some of the more common eye damages that you may experience:
Infection Due to Damaged Tear Film
Your cornea has a protective tear film that acts as a natural defense mechanism of your eyes. When your cornea is submerged in chemically-treated water, the chemicals wash away the film and leave your eyes vulnerable. Bacteria and other contaminants not killed by the chemicals can then easily damage your eyes. This is one of the reasons swimmers develop pink eye, also known as bacterial or viral conjunctivitis.
Infection Due to Swimming with Contact Lenses
If you swim with contact lenses, then you have another problem to deal with apart from a damaged tear film. A lens may trap water between itself and your eye, or it may even absorb it. If the water is contaminated with microbes, then they will have an easier time getting into your eyes. An example of an infection you may get this way is acanthamoeba keratitis, which is caused by amoebas infecting the cornea.
Irritation and Dryness due to chlorine exposure
Apart from making your eyes vulnerable to infections, damage of the protective film also leaves your eyes dry and irritated. Your cornea may also swell after swimming for an extended period. The net result of all these things is that you may experience temporary blurriness. Older swimmers, or those who spend a lot of time in the pool, tend to experience longer periods of blurriness.
To prevent the above problems, you need to:
- Wear protective goggles. They should fit securely for maximum protection.
- Don't swim for lengthy periods without taking breaks.
- Rinse your eyes with clean running water immediately after getting out of the pool.
- Remove your contact lenses before getting into the pool.
- Make sure your pool is treated with an appropriate level of chemicals.
Despite your best intentions, you may develop some eye issues after swimming in a chlorinated pool. If that happens, flush your eyes with running water and see a doctor if the irritation does not go away after a few minutes. According to HealthDay, you should see a doctor immediately if you experience severe pain, distorted vision or drainage from your red eyes after leaving the pool. Eye exams will ensure correct diagnosis and treatment of the problem.