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Eye Care Tips for Summer Water Fun

June 10, 2024

Summer is here, and for many of us, that means heading to the water to cool off and have fun.

Whether you’re planning to splash around in a pool, float down a river, paddle across a lake, ride the waves at the ocean, enjoy the thrills of a water park, or slide through your backyard on a Slip N Slide, it’s important to consider the safety of your eyes. Before you dive into your next aquatic adventure, take a moment to learn about protecting your vision during water activities. Here’s what you need to know to keep your eyes healthy and clear all season long.

Why Our Eyes Burn in Pool Water

If you've ever opened your eyes while swimming in a chlorinated pool, you've likely experienced the unpleasant sting of chloramine. This compound forms when chlorine, the chemical used to keep pools clean, reacts with contaminants such as dirt, oils, and urine in the water. While it might seem unsettling, this reaction is actually chlorine effectively doing its job by neutralizing harmful bacteria. Typically, the discomfort from chloramine is mild and temporary. However, irritation can also occur if the pool's pH levels are not properly balanced.

Keep Your Contacts Away from Water

Wearing contact lenses in the pool poses a significant risk due to certain microorganisms that can withstand the chlorine. These resilient germs thrive in the warm, moist environments provided by contact lenses, essentially turning them into breeding grounds. To minimize the risk of pool water contaminating your lenses, always wear goggles if you choose to swim with contacts.

Among the most concerning of these microorganisms are acanthamoeba, which are ubiquitous in water bodies globally. Normally, they pose little threat, but when you swim with contact lenses, you grant these organisms far greater access to your eyes' surfaces. In severe cases, acanthamoeba can infiltrate the cornea, leading to acanthamoeba keratitis — an infection that can result in permanent vision loss.

Beyond the microbial risks, contact lenses themselves can also be problematic in water. They are not designed for underwater use and may swell or tighten around the cornea, causing discomfort, or they may even slip out. For these reasons, it's best to leave your contact lenses behind and opt for prescription goggles or glasses when engaging in water activities.

Let Us Guide You to the Perfect Goggles

Selecting the ideal pair of goggles can be as challenging as choosing the perfect sunglasses, but we're here to assist! Visit our practice or reach out to us by phone — we're eager to help you explore your options for underwater eyewear. Even if you don’t require prescription goggles, proper eye protection is essential for everyone.

Remember to protect your vision and enjoy your time in the water safely!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.