Bard Optical

What Does Chlorine Do to Your Eyes?

It’s finally summertime!

The temperatures have begun to steadily warm-up, and they’ll be staying that way for the next few months.

You may find it refreshing to step outside into the heat after being stuck in winter for what seems like an eternity.

Or, you may be scorching the second you leave your air-conditioned home.

What better way to cool down outside than to step in the pool and relax?

With pools, especially public pools, comes the presence of chlorine in the water, which can be harmful to your eyes.

The purpose of chlorine in the water is to kill off most bacteria and keep the water as sanitary as possible.

However, the chlorine used to clean public pools is also an irritant to your eyes. If you are exposed to the chemicals for too long, your eyes can become red, irritated, and itchy, which no one wants. It can also cause minor blurry vision, and a “gritty” feeling in your eyes if they’re exposed long enough. The reason this happens is that the chlorine in the water removes the protective tear film covering your eyes, which not only keeps them hydrated but also serves as a barrier to keep germs from entering your eyes.

While chlorine is also in the water to remove bacteria, it cannot do everything. This is why pools are an easy place to catch diseases like pink eye (or conjunctivitis) because they are easily communicable. It’s difficult to remove every pathogen from the water, and the chlorine only does so much. Since chlorine can strip away the protective tear film on your eyes, it makes you more susceptible to these infections. Luckily, they can easily be treated by a physician.

The easiest way to protect yourself from this is to wear swim goggles. If you wear swim goggles while at the pool, your chances of leaving with irritated eyes and possible infections significantly drops. Your eyes are not directly exposed to the water in this case, so the chances of having irritation are very slim.

For those of us who wear contacts, or specific contacts to the pool, it may be in your best interest to remove and clean your contacts immediately following your time at the pool. Pathogens can get stuck between your eye and the contact, making you especially susceptible to infection. Removing and cleaning your contacts ensures that nothing can come between you and stellar vision after a trip to the pool.

It’s also important to stay hydrated while at the pool since this can stimulate tear production and get your eyes back to working order in a speedier fashion. Make sure you keep bottled water on you when at the pool since this helps to keep you and your eyes hydrated. Eye drops are also an effective tool to use, as they apply moisture directly back into your eyes.

This summer when you decide to take a dip at the local pool, keep these things in mind as you prepare to plunge in. Bring your goggles and water because you’ll surely need it!

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