Eye Care & Surgery Center NJ Bladeless LASIK Laser Cataract Surgeon Blog

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Protecting Your Eyes While Swimming-What Precautions to Take

It is recommended not to swim with your eyes open under the water and, when possible, to avoid splashes into your eyes. Pool chemicals and pH levels will affect your eyes when they are open, while you are swimming. Anyone spending an extended period of time in the water should protect their eyes by wearing goggles. If you worry about not being able to see clearly without glasses or contacts and want to see while in the pool, you may want to consider prescription goggles.

It is a common misconception that the chlorine in the pool will cause a swimmer's eyes to burn. In order for chlorine to be the cause, the chlorine level would have to be extremely high. The more likely reason people’s eyes sting or burn after swimming is the pH is not in balance. Keeping in mind that the tears produced by human eyes has a pH of 7.0, if the pH of the pool water is below that level, it will certainly cause the eyes to burn. The proper pH level for swimming pools is in the range of 7.2 to 7.8. If your pool's pH is kept within this range, burning eyes shouldn't be a problem for swimmers in your pool.

Swimming with your contact lenses on, is possible but very risky. The health risk associated is merely dependent upon the body of water you are in. When swimming on lakes and rivers, there is a huge possibility for a microorganism called acanthamoeba to adhere to your lens, causing infection and inflammation of your cornea (acanthamoeba keratitis). Swimming around pools and ocean waters on the other hand, decreases your susceptibility to microbial infection, but other problems may evolve. In the pool--eye irritation is possible when chlorine sticks on the surface of your lens; in the ocean--your contact lenses can be dislodged when you encounter large waves. You can still wear your lenses, but do so with proper precautions. Obviously keeping your head out of the water will reduce risk greatly.

Remove the contact lenses and consult an ophthalmologist immediately if you experience symptoms such as redness, pain, tearing, increased light sensitivity, blurry vision, discharge or swelling.

Thank you to our guest blogger Milton Kahn M.D, for sharing safety tips to help enjoy our summer to the fullest.