Summertime is great for relaxation, fun, and adventure. Eye safety is incredibly important always, but some summertime activities require extra care. Swimming is a really good way to spend time, but underwater protection is super important.
If you have ever opened your eyes underwater, you may have noticed a peculiar stinging sensation that isn’t really pleasant. Depending on the person, it can sting a little or feel like tiny needles attacking different parts of your eye. Isn’t that just the chlorine? Surprisingly, it isn’t.
The actual culprit is the compound formed by the chlorine and the contaminants in the water. The compound that forms is chloramine. It’s really unpleasant to think about why it stings more sometimes than others, but you probably just did. Gotcha!
Wearing goggles protects your eyes from this special concoction of ick. They also have the benefit of helping you see things coming at your face. They can be beneficial during water sports, just don’t cheat at Marco Polo.
Don’t swim in contacts
Sure, you could lose your contact in the pool, but that isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Soft lenses simply are not made for swimming. In water, they shrink. Contacts sit on your cornea so this means they are tightening around a super important part of your eye. At best, it’s uncomfortable and at worst, potentially damaging.
Opening your eyes underwater invites bacteria in. There are many species of microorganisms that enjoy pools and chlorine can’t get them all. Contacts get those germs and bacteria and trap them against the eye. Now your eye is a petri dish and infections are much easier to get and spread.
Convinced yet? Well, there is an infection called acanthamoeba that can cause permanent blindness. It is also notable that underwater contact use can cause infections in freshwater. That includes showers and baths. It’s just best to take them out when getting wet.
If you can’t see without prescription lenses…
Go visit your eye doctor. Goggles don’t really help if you’re blind without glasses or contacts. Contacts and water are not a good combination. What are the less visually gifted among us to do? Well, there are prescription goggles if you are spending a lot of time underwater.
As for time spent out of the water, make sure that you have excellent eye protection. UV lenses are important year round but especially when you know you’re going to be outside around reflective surfaces for long periods of time.
Dr. Joseph Cohen O.D.
Woodland Hills Optometrist
Get excellent service on a comprehensive eye care
19737 Ventura Blvd., Suite 201, Woodland Hills, CA 91364