By: Dr. Amber Teten – Chesapeake Pediatric Eye Doctor
Children across the country are gearing up for swim season as the warm weather approaches. With trips to the beach, pool parties, and swim meets on the horizon, parents may have concerns about the safety of their children’s eyes while swimming. One common question is whether chlorine is bad for little swimmers’ eyes. Dr. Teten, a pediatric eye doctor, will explore the effects of chlorine on pediatric eye health and provide tips for keeping your child’s eyes safe while swimming.
Chlorine is commonly used to disinfect swimming pool water and prevent the spread of waterborne illnesses. However, chlorine can adversely affect the eyes if not used properly. Chlorine is a strong oxidant that can irritate the eyes and cause redness, itching, and watering. Exposure to high chlorine levels can also cause a condition known as a swimmer’s eye, characterized by redness, inflammation, and even corneal abrasions. Additionally, chlorine can cause the eyes to become dry and uncomfortable, particularly for those who wear contact lenses.
It is important to note that while chlorine can cause irritation and discomfort, it is not inherently bad for the eyes. The key is to ensure that the chlorine levels in the pool are correctly balanced and that swimmers take steps to protect their eyes while swimming. Here are some tips for keeping your child’s eyes safe while swimming:
As a pediatric eye doctor, Dr. Teten highly recommends that children wear goggles while swimming to protect their eyes from the potentially harmful effects of chlorine. Goggles create a barrier between the eyes and pool water, preventing irritation and dryness that can lead to swimmer’s eye and other eye-related infections. Additionally, goggles can help children see more clearly and confidently in the water, improving their swimming experience.
At Navigation Eye Care, we understand the importance of protecting little swimmer’s eyes. We are proud to offer prescription strength goggles with fun colors for children to choose from. Our team can help you find the perfect fit for your child’s unique needs, ensuring they can swim safely and comfortably.
Shower Before Swimming
Please encourage your child to shower before swimming to help protect their eyes from the potentially harmful effects of chlorine. Chlorine can react with sweat, oils, and other substances in the body to create irritating and potentially harmful compounds. By showering before swimming, children can rinse off these substances, reducing the amount of chlorine needed to keep the pool clean and safe. This, in turn, reduces the amount of chlorine in the water and decreases the risk of eye irritation, redness, and other eye-related infections.
Additionally, showering before swimming can help children feel more comfortable and refreshed, making their swimming experience more enjoyable. Parents can make showering a fun and interactive part of their children’s pre-swim routine, encouraging them to thoroughly wash their faces, hands, and body. Parents can help their children enjoy a safe and healthy swimming season by taking these simple steps.
Avoid Rubbing the Eyes
Parents should encourage their children to avoid rubbing their eyes while swimming. Rubbing the eyes with chlorine-contaminated hands or water can cause irritation, redness, and even scratches on the eye’s delicate surface. These scratches can make the eye more vulnerable to infections and further irritation. Instead, children should use a towel or a gentle patting motion to dry their face and eyes after swimming.
Parents can also teach their children the importance of washing their hands and face with clean water before and after swimming to prevent contamination. Suppose a child experiences eye irritation or redness after swimming. In that case, parents should have them flush their eyes with clean water and avoid rubbing or touching their eyes. Parents should seek medical attention from a pediatric eye doctor like Dr. Teten at Navigation Eye Care if the symptoms persist.
Chlorine can cause the eyes to become dry, so swimmers need to stay hydrated. Please encourage your child to drink plenty of water before, during, and after swimming to help keep their eyes and body hydrated.
Swimmers need to take breaks from the water to allow their eyes and body to rest. Encourage your child to take breaks every 30 minutes or so and avoid prolonged swimming or diving periods.
Use Lubricating Eye Drops
If your child’s eyes become dry or uncomfortable while swimming, consider using lubricating eye drops to help alleviate the symptoms. Talk to Dr. Teten at Navigation Eye Care about which eye drops are best for your child.
In addition to these tips, it is important to ensure that the pool water is properly balanced and that the chlorine levels are appropriate. If the chlorine levels are too high, it can cause irritation and discomfort for swimmers. If the chlorine levels are too low, it can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria and other contaminants.
The Navigation Eye Care team wants to emphasize that while chlorine is necessary to keep swimming pools clean and safe, it can adversely affect little swimmer’s eyes if not used properly. It is important to balance chlorine levels in the pool, wear goggles, shower before swimming, avoid rubbing the eyes, stay hydrated, take breaks, and use lubricating eye drops if necessary. By following these tips, parents can help protect their children’s eyes from irritation, dryness, and other eye-related infections while they enjoy the swimming season.
It is also important for parents to recognize the signs of swimmer’s eye, such as redness, inflammation, and corneal abrasions, and seek out a pediatric eye doctor if necessary. By working together, Dr. Teten, a pediatric eye doctor, and parents can ensure that children can enjoy the benefits of swimming while keeping their eyes healthy and safe. So, let’s all look forward to a fun and safe swimming season!
Suppose you have a child with one or more swimming-related eye conditions. In that case, we encourage you to have your child evaluated by a qualified pediatric eye doctor. Dr. Teten encourages parents to bring their children in for regular eye exams and at times when the parent may have concerns related to their eye health. This way, Dr. Teten can help ensure your child’s eyes are healthy and their vision is properly developing. Call the Navigation Eye Care team at 757-529-6889 or schedule an appointment online. We are fully equipped and prepared to care for you and your family.