Eye safety tips when swimming

Whether you’re cooling off in the sea whilst on holiday or getting some laps in at your local pool, it’s important to be mindful of eye safety whilst swimming. Whatever kind of water activity you prefer, make sure you follow these safety precautions to keep your eyes protected whilst in the water. It will save you a lot of pain and discomfort.

Wear goggles

Have you ever realised that your eyes feel irritated when you open them after swimming in the pool? You might assume that this is due to the chorine, but it’s actually a result of the chlorine reacting with the plethora of other contaminants that make their way into the water. It forms a compound called chloramine which can cause your eyes to sting. It’s not just the water in swimming pools that can irritate eyes either. Water in oceans, lakes and rivers can also contain bacteria that can lead to eye irritation. The best way to protect against this is to wear goggles whilst swimming. Wearing goggles will also make it easier for you to see whilst underwater, helping you to avoid hazards like the side of the pool or other swimmers.

Remove contact lenses

Wearing contact lenses whilst in the water can lead to all sort of eye problems, including irritation, infection, and more serious complications like corneal ulcers and acanthamoeba keratitis, which can lead to permanent blindness. These are the result of microbes attaching to the lenses and aggravating the eye. Another reason it’s so important to remove contact lenses before swimming is that they can shrink in the water, causing them to tighten around the cornea, which can be very uncomfortable and even damaging. Fortunately, prescription swimming goggles exist to help you see clearly when swimming underwater whilst eliminating the risk of infection.

Use eye drops

Opening your eyes whilst swimming underwater washes away the tears that naturally lubricate your eyes. This can lead to certain eye conditions, including dry eye syndrome. One way to combat this problem is to use eyedrops before and after you swim. This will help minimise the drying effects of the water, restoring the composition of healthy tear film and leaving your eyes feeling much more comfortable and less irritated. Rinse your eyes with clean water whilst showering after a swim and then apply over-the-counter lubricating eye drops to provide immediate symptom relief. Ask a pharmacist which they recommend for swimming.

One of the best ways to beat the summer heat is to cool off with a refreshing swim. However, swimming can have a negative effect on our eyes if we don’t take the right precautions. Hopefully, these tips will help you to protect your eyes whilst in the water without diminishing your fun in the sun. If you’re having problems with your eyes, why not book an appointment with Consultant Ophthalmic surgeon Gurjeet Jutley? Based at the Oxford University Hospital, Gurjeet has a wealth of experience and expertise in eye health.