The impact of swimming on your child’s eye health

Does exposure to chlorine cause permanent damage to the eyes? What are the effects of swimming with contact lenses? Keep reading for answers to these questions and more.

Long term damage, irritations and infections
There is no evidence of long-term damage to eye health due to chlorine exposure but there are dangers and risks associated with it. The tear film coats the eye and keeps it moist and protected. Chlorine and other chemicals used to keep the water clean can disrupt the tear film leaving the eyes more exposed to harmful pool chemicals and bacteria. The chlorine itself can irritate the eyes and bacteria that survive the chlorine can lead to an eye infection.

Eye health swimming tips

  • Wear a pair of swimming goggles every time they swim. Goggles keep pool chemicals and bacteria out of the eyes, helping to keep the tear film intact.
  • Splash the eyes CLOSED with fresh water immediately after swimming. This washes chlorine and other chemicals of the eyelids and eye lashes.
  • Use over the counter lubricating eye drops before and after swimming to keep the tear film balanced.

Contact lenses
Be aware of swimming with contact lenses. Swimming with soft contact lenses can cause the contact lenses to tighten on the eye, which will result in significant discomfort. Swimming with contact lenses can result in eye infections and potentially sight-threatening conditions as pool water absorbs and accumulates in the lens. If your child does need to swim with contact lenses choose daily disposable contact lenses, they are thrown away after a single use. The best way to reduce the risk of eye irritation and eye infection when swimming with contact lenses is to wear waterproof swim goggles. Prescription swimming goggles can also be custom-made to correct refractive errors enabling children to see clearly under water without the risks associated with swimming with contact lenses. 

Encourage children to enjoy the water while parents practice proper eye care in the pool to avoid irritation and infections. You are protecting their learning and reading when you protect their eyes!

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