Ever wonder why your eyes get red and irritated after you open them at the pool? It used to be thought that it was the chlorine that caused such irritation and redness. Instead, it is from a compound that forms when chlorine reacts with contaminates in the pool, this compound is called chloramine. It is important to protect your eyes while you are swimming not only to reduce redness and irritation but to help keep your eyes healthy. Here are five ways to keep your eyes healthy and safe while swimming:


  • Wear Goggles


The simplest solution in order to protect your eyes is buy wearing correctly fitting swim goggles. Goggles create a barrier from all the pool chemicals and keeps them from getting into your eyes and causing irritation. It is important to make sure that your goggles fit you properly so you don’t have any water that seeps in while you’re swimming, because this defeats the purpose of the goggles in the first place. The other benefit of wearing goggles while swimming is that they also help you avoid hazards like the pool edge, and other swimmers flailing limbs!


  • Wash your eyes


When you are finished at the pool and are rinsing off in the showers, don’t forget to rinse out your eyes. The best way is to close your eyes and let the cool water run down them, but if this is too cold for you to do in the shower, do it in the sink. Rinse your eyes immediately after exiting the pool to get the chlorine and chemicals off of your eyelids and eyelashes. This will also prevent you from continuing to irritate your eyes by rubbing them and introducing the chemicals over and over again.


  • Use eye drops or gel tears


If you aren’t fond of goggles, consider using over-the-counter lubricating eye drops before and after swimming. This will allow for the tear film to remain balanced and the eyes to be more comfortable. There is also the option of using gel tears, this is usually people who suffer from dry eye, and is basically a thicker version of artificial tears. This can also help when wearing goggles to make sure your eyes stay moist while they are being protected. Check with your ophthalmologist to see if they have recommendations or if you should consider using prescription eye drops as well.


  • Drink plenty of water


This may seem like second nature, but a lot of the time, when we are swimming we don’t realize that we are falling behind on our water intake. Keeping hydrated helps keep our eyes moist and comfortable as well as assisting in tear production.


  • Leave the contact lenses at home


Soft lenses are not meant to be in the water because it causes them to shrink, when they shrink they tighten around the cornea. This can not only be uncomfortable but can actually cause damage to the eye itself. Another downside of wearing contacts in the pool is that the germs that are in the water can become trapped between the contact lens and your eye and cause infection. If you need the help from a prescription lens consider investing in prescription goggles so you can keep your eyes protect and still be able to see.

Goggles are the best bet for keeping your eyes safe while swimming, but use any of these tips, or a combination of them, in order to find the best protection strategy for you and your eyes. Also, if you decide to stay poolside, don’t forget to protect your eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses!