Swimming is a great form of exercise and a relaxing way to cool down. Swimming can, however, be hard on your eyes. Whether you enjoy a leisurely dip in your own pool or compete in the Olympic 200 meter freestyle, you may be familiar with the stinging, burning and redness of swimmer’s eye.

Swimmer’s Eye

Your eyes have a thin layer of tears called the tear film that coats the surface of your eyes. The tear film helps to keep your eyes moist, smooth and clear. Chemical’s like chlorine that are used to keep pool water clean can wash away the layer of tear film, leaving eyes uncomfortable, red and sore.  People who swim frequently have a higher tendency to develop dry eyes because they don’t produce the right quality of tears to lubricate the eyes. It can leave a feeling of having grit or dirt in your eyes. It can also lead to having blurred vision.

When your tear film is not functioning properly it can lead to your eyes being exposed to harmful pool chemicals and lingering bacteria. Just chlorine alone can cause a bad reaction, leaving the surface and edges of your eyes red, itchy, watery and uncomfortable. Bacteria that survive the chlorine may lead to eye infections, such as pink eye (conjunctivitis).

Tips for Protecting Your Eyes While Swimming

  • wear googles
  • wash your eyes
  • use eye drops or gel tears
  • stay hydrated

Wearing swim goggles every time you swim will help keep chemicals out of your eyes, keeping your tear film healthy. Rinsing your eyes, after a swim in chlorinated water, with fresh water will help rinse off chemicals from eyes, eyelids and eyelashes. Using eye drops or gel tears before and after swimming will help to keep your tear film balanced and comfortable.  And jsut as importantly, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water will help to keep those mucus membranes plump and comfortable.

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Source: https://www.aao.org
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