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Is Chlorine The Only Cause Of Irritated Eyes In Swimmers?

Is Chlorine The Only Cause Of Irritated Eyes In Swimmers?

12 Aug, 2023

Playing in the water for longer periods of time is enjoyable, but it can also leave you with red, irritated eyes. The swimmer's eye infection caused by too much chlorine is something that many of us have heard about, but that is not fully to blame; rather, it is only part of the story. The problem is actually caused by urine and sweat that are present in the water, and to get rid of bacteria, swimming pools are cleaned with chlorine. When this chlorine binds to the urine and sweat that swimmers release into the water, it produces substances known as chloramines. These substances irritate your skin, respiratory system, and other body systems, as well as causing eye infections after swimming.

In addition to discharge, swollen eyelids, blurred vision, itching, redness, burning, and irritation are some of the symptoms of conjunctivitis and swimmer's eye. A swimmer's eye irritation could be avoided by being aware of some fundamentals, such as how pool water impacts eye health.

Factors contributing to these red, irritated eyes after swimming:

  • Chlorine: Chlorine is commonly used in swimming pools as a disinfectant to kill bacteria and other microorganisms. However, exposure to chlorine can irritate the eyes and cause redness, itching, and discomfort. Chlorine can strip away the protective tear film on the surface of the eye, leading to dryness and irritation.
  • Chloramines: When chlorine reacts with organic substances, such as sweat, urine, or cosmetics, it forms chloramines. Chloramines can be more irritating to the eyes than chlorine itself. Indoor pools, where chloramines can accumulate due to poor ventilation, may increase the risk of eye irritation.
  • pH Imbalance: Improper pH levels in swimming pool water can contribute to eye irritation. If the pool water's pH is too high or too low, it can cause the eyes to become red, itchy, and irritated.
  • Allergens: Some people may be sensitive or allergic to specific allergens present in swimming pool water, such as pollen, chemicals, or certain water additives. Allergic reactions can result in red, itchy, and irritated eyes.
  • Bacteria and microorganisms: Swimming in contaminated water, such as untreated or poorly maintained pools, lakes, or rivers, can expose the eyes to bacteria and microorganisms. These can cause eye infections and inflammation, leading to redness and irritation.

Steps to prevent or minimize red, irritated eyes after swimming:

  • Use goggles: Wearing goggles while swimming helps protect your eyes from direct contact with pool water, reducing the risk of irritation and dryness.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes: Rubbing your eyes can further irritate them and potentially introduce more bacteria or irritants. Instead, flush your eyes with clean water or use lubricating eye drops recommended by a healthcare professional.
  • Take breaks and hydrate: Take regular breaks from swimming to rest your eyes and hydrate your body. Drinking plenty of water helps maintain overall eye and body hydration.
  • Shower before swimming: Rinse off in a shower before entering the pool to reduce the amount of sweat, cosmetics, and other substances on your skin that can react with chlorine and contribute to eye irritation.
  • Choose well-maintained pools:Opt for swimming in well-maintained pools with appropriate chlorine levels and proper pH balance to minimize the risk of eye irritation.

Call Bajaj Eye Care Centre for help

If you experience persistent or severe eye irritation after swimming, it's recommended to consult Dr. Rajiv Bajaj at Bajaj Eye Care Centre in Delhi. He can assess your symptoms, provide appropriate treatment or relief measures, and ensure there are no underlying eye infections or conditions contributing to the redness and irritation.