Summertime Swimming: Protect your eyes

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 21-May-2014

summertimeSMALLSpring and summer time in Texas means one thing: it’s time to hit the water! Whether you go swimming in the ocean or prefer to soak up some sun by the edge of the water, there are a few things you should know to protect your eyes this summer.

Swimming pool water and ocean salt water both pose certain risks to your eyes. The chemicals in a swimming pool can cause chemical or allergic conjunctivitis, which comes with irritating symptoms such as itching, burning, watery eyes, red eyes, a gritty feeling in the eyes, blurred vision, sensitivity to light and inflammation in the eyelids.

Although saltwater is actually safer and gentler on your eyes than chemically-treated pool water, natural bodies of water contain bacteria and can be contaminated with man-made pollutants and animal waste, which could lead to an infection in your eyes.

Wearing proper eye protection, like goggles, while swimming can help prevent eye infection or irritation from the water. Here are some tips to protect your eyes while swimming:

  • Do not wear contact lenses while swimming.If you wear your contact lenses in the pool and swim with your eyes open, you could lose your lenses in the pool. If you lose a contact lens in the swimming pool, you’ll never find it! Wearing contact lenses while swimming also increases your risk of eye infection from microorganisms in the water. Any microorganisms in the swimming pool can get stuck on your contact lenses, irritating your eye or causing an infection.
  • Always wear goggles.Never swim with your eyes open under water (whether in the pool or a natural body of water) without wearing goggles. Swimming with your eyes open can cause redness as well as burning or dry eyes. Wearing goggles not only protects your eyes from chemicals and contaminants in the water, but will also allow you to see more clearly under water.

Protecting your eyes from the sun is just as important as protecting them from water. The sun emits powerful UVA and UVB rays that can have dangerous effects on the eyes. UV rays produced by the sun can increase your risk of developing eye conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration and even cancer of the eye. Protect your eyes from the sun with these tips:

  • Wear sunglasses designed to block 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. (Wraparound sunglasses are ideal, as they will also block rays from entering from the side.) UV protection has nothing to do with how dark the tint of your sunglasses is.
  • Wear a broad-rimmed hat to fully protect your eyes.
  • Wear sunglasses, even on cloudy days. Though clouds may eliminate brightness from the sun, UV rays can still pass through the clouds and cause damage to your eyes.
  • Pay attention to peak sun times. The sun’s UV rays are strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. It is best to avoid being outdoors during these hours. If you must be outside during peak sun hours, always wear proper protection.

Have some fun in the sun this summer, but be sure to keep your eyes safe while you’re outside or in the water. If you are experiencing any problems with your eyes, contact the experienced eye doctors at the Key-Whitman Eye Center.

Categories: Eye Care Tips, Eye Health
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