It’s Pool Time! — Cooling Down the Burn of Swimmer’s Eye

The ouch, the itch, the sting – summer is a time to enjoy the cooling off in the pool, but most of us are familiar with the red-eyed discomfort that can occur after even the most refreshing dunk. Exposure to ocean, lake, or pool water is tough on the eyes. But if you love to spend summer in the water, there are steps you can take to prevent or limit the fun-spoiling effects of swimmer’s eye.

Tears Matter
Chlorine and other chemicals used to keep pool water clean can wash away the moist layer of our natural tear film. Without the protection of a fully functioning tear film, eyes are exposed to harmful pool chemicals and bacteria and become red, itchy, watery and uncomfortable. And bacteria that survive the chlorine can lead to an eye infection, such as pink eye (conjunctivitis).

Helping Eyes Stay Healthy
Here’s some advice from the American Academy of Ophthalmology:

Wear Goggles
Wear a pair of swim goggles every time you swim. Goggles keep pool chemicals out of your eyes, helping to keep your tear film healthy. Be sure to visit us at our Eatontown location where we can size and custom order prescription goggles.

Wash Your Eyes
Splash your closed eyes with fresh water immediately after swimming. This washes chlorine and other chemicals off your eyelids and eyelashes.

Use Eye Drops…
Use over-the-counter lubricating eye drops before and after swimming to keep the tear film balanced and eyes comfortable.

. . . or Use Gel Tears
Got dry eye? Help protect your tear film by putting in thicker artificial tears—called gel tears—before putting on your goggles. Check with your Atlantic Eye ophthalmologist to see if you need prescription eye drops.

Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water is an important part of keeping your eyes moist and comfortable.

Maintain pool chlorine levels and pH balance
Consult your pool professional about levels that are easiest on the eye.

Skip the Contacts!
Bacteria can grow on lenses even after just one swim. Wearing contact lenses in any type of water—including a pool, hot tub, ocean or lake—puts you at high risk for a painful corneal infection that may damage your eyes and even cause loss of vision. You can get prescription swimming goggles to help keep your vision clear and eyes healthy in the pool.

The Dark Side
See your Atlantic Eye ophthalmologist right away if you develop any of these eye infection symptoms:

• Redness
• Pain
• Tearing
• Being very sensitive to light
• Blurry vision
• Sensation of having something in your eye
• Discharge from your eye
• Eye swelling

The Takeaway
As you and your family enjoy the healthy summer fun of pool time, keep the above tips in mind to help protect you and your water rats from swimmer’s eye irritation and possible infection. And don’t hesitate to call or text us at Atlantic Eye to discuss any problems that may be affecting your all-important eyes – we are always here to help!