When swimmers complain of irritated eyes, most contribute it to the chlorine. While high concentrations can temporarily aggravate the eyes, chlorine is often not detrimental to your eye health. In fact, it’s necessary for reducing water-borne bacteria.
If overexposed to chlorine, the tear film—which protects the transparent layer of the eye—erodes. Once gone, any dirt or bacteria that survives the chlorine can infect the eyes more easily. More commonly, though, the eyes just get a little dry. To remedy, you can apply lubricating eye drops to restore hydration.
Contacts are a little different. If water gets between the contact and the eye, a special infection called acanthamoebic keratitis can develop. This happens when a type of amoeba gets trapped and flourishes. Always take your contacts out for this reason.
Red Eyes Are Not Because of Chlorine
Interestingly, red eyes rarely develop from the chemicals in a pool but rather a little ingredient other swimmers add—urine. Unfortunately, this is sometimes unavoidable. However much a pool enforces good hygiene, some swimmers will never listen. That said, there are a few ways you can help the situation:
- Refrain from peeing in the water yourself;
- Shower before swimming to avoid transporting oils, dirt and cosmetics into the water;
- Wear goggles before opening your eyes underwater.
If you plan on using goggles, you will need to purchase a pair that fits snuggly. Many swimmers prefer goggles that strap to the outside of the eye socket to reduce the pressure. Some come with nose plugs, too, but these can prevent proper breathing.
For more information on picking goggles, watch the video below.