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Can You Open Your Eyes Underwater?

By Staff , 05/24/22, 12:30PM EDT

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Spring means swimming, and a lot of people use the season to jump into pools, lakes, and oceans to cool off. A commonly asked question brought to eye care providers is whether or not it’s safe to open your eyes in the water. Dive into each of these swimming spots to see what you should and shouldn’t do.

SWIMMING POOLS AND YOUR EYES

In the short term, swimming in a pool can leave your eyes dehydrated due to chlorine present in the water. This can cause red, watery eyes and cause some temporary sensitivity to light. However, long exposure to pool water can cause the tear film on your cornea to strip away. As a result, you may find yourself susceptible to eye infections like pink eye.

LAKES, CREEKS, AND YOUR EYES

Lakes, ponds, creeks, and other freshwater bodies of water might seem safe on the surface due to lack of chlorine, but they come with their own unique problems. These water sources can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Too much time in the lake could cause eye irritation or ocular-related water diseases that impact the cornea and retina.

OCEANS AND YOUR EYES

The largest water source that people turn to for relaxation is the ocean. Most people are aware of the saltwater content in the ocean that can irritate the cornea, but you also have to consider the sand that constantly flows through the water due to constant currents. Even if you choose to stay in shallow water, you can still face crashing waves that knock you in or splash into your eyes.

HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR EYES SAFE IN THE WATER?

To make the most of your time in the water, there are a few things you can do to reduce the possibility of infection or irritation. Contact lens wearers should remove their lenses before swimming in pools, lakes or the ocean to prevent bacteria or parasites from entering your eyes. Dr. Casey Mathys, a CEENTA ophthalmologist and cornea specialist from our SouthPark and Belmont offices, goes into further detail. “Swimming with contact lenses is a common cause for corneal ulcers, which can cause vision loss."

The best course of action would be to wear goggles that fit properly to keep your eyes separated from the water. After swimming, you can rinse your eyes out gently with artificial tears.

Even if you’re not diving into the pool, eye irritation and infection can affect everyone. At CEENTA, our team of ophthalmologists can examine your eyes and provide treatment options best suited for your condition. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Mathys in SouthPark or Belmont today to make a splash this spring.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. New patients can make appointments online with our eye doctors in North and South Carolina. Current patients can also make appointments through myCEENTAchart with physicians they have already seen.