During the summer months, both kids and adults alike enjoy lots of fun in the sun at pools, lakes, rivers and coasts. There are few things more satisfying than a cool, refreshing swim on a hot summer day. Unfortunately, most manmade water sources, including pools, are treated with chlorine. While chlorine is safe for human contact and consumption in small doses, too much chlorine exposure could cause permanent damage to your eyesight.
If you or your little ones are planning to spend time at the pool this summer, it’s important to learn how chlorine affects your eyes, and understand ways to keep your eyes in good condition throughout the summer months. For more clarification on safe chlorine exposure levels and to learn more about the side effects of chlorine exposure, consult with one of the trusted optometrists in Cape Cod, MA.
Causes of chlorine irritation
Most residential, commercial and public swimming pools are treated with highly concentrated chlorine in order to prevent the spread of disease and the propagation of bacteria. Typically, chlorine is added to swimming pools in extremely high concentrations—as much as 95 percent. For comparison, most household bleaches only contain 5 percent chlorine.
There are a number of factors that cause eyes to become irritated when exposed to chlorine. Firstly, chlorine makes pool water extra acidic. Acidic substances, which are delineated with a pH lower than seven, break down fats and skin cells. In small amounts, acidic substances cause irritation. If a swimming pool’s pH isn’t calculated correctly, it could cause swimmers’ eyes to become itchy and irritated.
Additionally, chlorine is itself a caustic substance. In high concentrations, chlorine can even cause blindness. If a pool’s chemistry is calibrated correctly, it won’t cause eye irritation. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult for pool managers to keep the chemistry perfect, which is why many people suffer from eye irritation after a swim.
In most cases, small amounts of eye irritation caused by chlorine exposure are harmless over the long term. In fact, the types of bacteria that propagate in pools are often far more dangerous to eye health than chlorine. Bacterial eye infections, like pink eye, can cause long-term vision damage. It’s always advisable to only swim in properly treated swimming pools, especially if they’re in public places.
In order to protect your eyes from long-term damage, try washing them out with cool, fresh, purified water after swimming in a pool. This will flush any lingering chlorine or bacteria out of the eye, and help it to heal.
Since 1997, Bayview Optometrics has been one of the most trusted optometrists in Cape Cod, MA. We provide each and every one of our clients with specialized eye care that’s right for them. If you’re looking for a dependable, highly qualified doctor to help you care for your eyes and find vision solutions that meet the needs of your lifestyle, look no further than the medical offices of Bayview Optometrics. Contact one of our friendly representatives today to learn how we can assist you.