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Is It Safe to Open Your Eyes Underwater?

Is It Safe to Open Your Eyes Underwater?

Infection-carrying bacteria spread rapidly when exposed to moisture. Opening your eyes under any type of water--chlorinated pool water, lake water, sea/ocean water--immediately puts your eyes at risk for suffering an infection due to water-borne pathogens. Your College Station eye doctor also warns people who routinely open their eyes underwater that some eye infections are severe and could cause partial loss of vision. Acanthamoeba corneal infection is one such eye disease often leading to vision loss. Acanthamoeba organisms can be found in the air, soil, lakes and oceans.

father and son on deck by water

Isn't Pool Water Supposed to be Clean?

While chlorine helps eliminate infectious bacteria from a swimming pool, it cannot be relied on to eliminate all infectious bacteria. When you expose your eyes to chlorinated pool water, the stinging or burning you feel in your eyes is not caused by chlorine but by the formation of chloramine, a byproduct of chlorine that reacts chemically to urine, dirt, body oils and fats. Also, because chlorine is continuously broken down in pools by contaminants, your optometrist advises swimmers to always wear goggles, even if a pool has been newly chlorinated.

Lake and Ocean Water Eye Infections

Opening your eyes in lake, ocean or sea water is especially dangerous. Never expose your eyes to natural water sources, where hundreds of different types of bacteria, viruses and even fungal pathogens could exist.

Your College Station Eye Doctor Offers Tips for Protecting Your Eyes in Water

  • Always wear goggles that completely seal your eyes from exposure to pool or natural water.
  • Never wear contacts lenses while swimming. Bacteria can become trapped under your contacts and promote infections.
  • If you don't have access to goggles, keep your eyes tightly closed under water and use a saline solution to clean your eyes immediately after exposure to ocean, pool or sea water.

Call Crystal Vision Center today at 979-764-0669  to schedule an appointment with your optometrist for an eye exam if you recently went swimming and are now suffering symptoms of a possible eye infection.

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