The Ultimate Guide on How to Get Chlorine Out of Your Eyes
Although swimming is an excellent way to exercise, there are some downsides to a dip in the pool. For one, opening your eyes while underwater can damage the outer cells that protect your cornea.
Swimmers may experience burning and irritation if this happens. That’s why it’s important to know how to get chlorine out of your eyes and how to take precautions for next time.
Here’s what to do if you’re experiencing red or irritated eyes after swimming in the pool.
Does Chlorine Hurt Your Eyes?
Some people can open their eyes underwater and may do so to get a clearer picture of where they can swim without bumping into someone or something. However, we advise against opening your eyes underwater without protective goggles for several reasons.
Chlorine is a powerful chemical meant to kill germs. Adding it to pools is essential to avoid bacteria growth, which can cause infections and other health problems. Yet, while chlorine is a vital sanitizer for the water, it can also cause damage to our eyes.
As we mentioned, chlorine can harm the outer cells protecting your cornea, also known as the tear film on your eyes. Unfortunately, removing that protective barrier makes it easier for germs and bacteria to reach your eyes.
Generally, opening your eyes for a second won’t cause much harm. However, keeping your eyes open for extended periods puts you at risk as you’re exposing them to chemicals and contaminants.
Additionally, some people swim with contacts in, but this is a bad idea! Chlorine can damage the surface of your contact lenses and create the perfect place for bacteria. Contaminated contact lenses sit directly against your eyes, and are likely to cause infections.
To maintain healthy eyes, it’s best to remove your contacts, keep your eyes closed while underwater, or buy a pair of swimming goggles.
How to Get Chlorine Out of Your Eyes
So, what if you recently went swimming and you already opened your eyes underwater? If so, you may experience some symptoms, such as:
- Teary eyes
- Sensitivity to light
Generally, these symptoms should only last a few hours after visiting the pool.
To clear your eyes, first flush them with cool, clean water. You can also use a sterile eye wash solution, which is usually made of 99% purified water.
If you’re using an eye wash solution with a nozzle applicator, simply lean back and squeeze the bottle over your eyes as needed. Make sure to avoid touching the tip of the applicator to the eye’s surface.
When using an eye cup, start by rinsing the cup with the solution and then filling half of it. Pour the cup over your eye and hold it as instructed. Tilt your head back and open your eyes, looking around to ensure the solution reaches your entire eyeball.
If you’re dealing with light sensitivity, consider moving to a darker area until the symptoms pass. Applying a cold compress soothes irritation and also promotes tear production.
If your symptoms persist for more than a few hours, it can indicate a bigger problem.
Signs of Infection
After getting rid of chlorine by flushing your eyes and waiting for symptoms to pass, your eyes should return to normal. If the pain or irritation doesn’t go away, you may need to seek medical treatment. Unfortunately, opening your eyes underwater can sometimes result in an eye infection.
Signs of an eye infection include:
- Vision problems
- Light sensitivity
You may also have a sensation that something is in your eye, even though you can’t see anything. This is referred to as Acanthamoeba keratitis, and it can cause severe pain or vision loss if left untreated.
Another common type of infection is conjunctivitis or pink eye. This virus can survive even in chlorinated pools.
Tips for Eye Care While Swimming
To prevent problems in the future, you should take the right precautions before jumping into the pool. If you do, you can beat the summer heat while also caring for your eyes.
If you wear contacts, remove them before getting into the water.
Get a pair of swimming goggles for you and your kids. Make sure that they’re properly fitted and snug against your face. There should be enough suction to keep water out.
Proper fit and suction are key to avoiding water inside the goggles, so you may need to test a few pairs. Keep in mind that there are many types of swimming goggles as well. For instance, there are recreational types and designs meant for competition.
Always rinse your eyes with clean, non-chlorinated water after swimming. It’s a good idea to take a shower and use an eyewash to remove the chlorine from your eyes, skin, and body.
Using lubricating artificial tears can also calm irritated eyes and restore some protection.
When to Contact an Eye Doctor
If your eyes still hurt or you notice discharge after 24 hours, you should contact your eye doctor. Proper eye health includes getting regular eye exams. Your doctor can look for signs of infection and damage.
If you swim often, you should ask your doctor for advice and tips to prevent irritation and infection in the future.
Generally, you should get an exam every few years depending on your age and any eye or vision problems you may have. If you’re a frequent swimmer, you should make this a priority.
Protect Your Eyes
Swimming is a great way to cool down or to get your exercise, but you should always remember to protect your eyes. Even if you don’t open them while underwater, it’s a good idea to flush them after swimming in a chlorine pool. If you want to know how to get chlorine out of your eyes, use these tips to help prevent infection and protect your vision.
If you suspect you might have an eye infection or you’re dealing with pain that doesn’t go away after chlorine exposure, schedule a visit with us at Cedar Park Vision. Set up your appointment today.