Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Protecting your eyes while swimming

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Swimming is a remarkable activity for not only burning calories and exercising your muscles, but it is also an effective means of enhancing your mental health. Regrettably, swimmers may be familiar with the feeling of getting out of the swimming pool with a tingling sensation in and around their eyes.

In fact, eye discomfort, also known as “swimmer’s eye” by some, is one of the most frequently observed grievances from ardent swimmers. To recognise how essential it is to safeguard one’s eyes while swimming, one must first fully grasp how water affects the eyes.

To begin with, a thin film of tears coats the surface of the eyes, keeping them clear, smooth, and moist. This improves vision by focusing light and prevents the eyes from infectious agents likedirt, dust, and other irritants. Without the tear film, the eyes would start drying out. Blinking would be excruciatingly painful, and there would be a constant physical sensation on the edge of the eyes. The eyes would also become extremely light-sensitive.

What’s in the water?
Disease-causing bacteria can be found in water, including pool water. So chlorine, the most widely used steriliser, is used to kill parasites, bacteria, and other infectious agents. The process is known as chlorination, and most drinking water contains chlorine for that exact reason. Although our skin is resistant enough that weak chlorine in water won’t harm us, you’ve probably noticed that if you stay in some swimming pools for too quite a while now, your eyes start to sting.

This is because chlorine and other solvents used to clean public pools can wipe away the tear film, causing swimmers’ eyes to tingle. Additionally, some tougher bacteria might survive the chlorination, which could lead to eye infections that prey on already itchy eyes. Conjunctivitis, also identified as pink eye, blurred vision, dry eyes, red eyes, and bacterial eye infections are a few of the common eye problems identified with swimmers. Therefore, it’s crucial to take the necessary safety measures and actions to prevent your eyes from suffering severe harm.

Dr. Ajay Sharma, chief medical director of EyeQ shares multiple ways to accomplish this:

Wear Watertight Goggles

By preventing pool chlorine from entering the eyes, watertight goggles safeguard the tear film. If you typically wear glasses with prescriptions, you can consult your eye-care specialist about purchasing prescription goggles. Swim goggles are specialised equipment, so they need to be treated with care.They ought to be flushed with fresh water after each use. Since the lenses have an anti-fogging coating, be careful when cleaning the inside of the lens. Allow the goggles to air dry naturally rather than wiping them. When the goggles are wet, avoid putting them in a closed container. Moreover, keep them out of the sun’s harsh rays.

Enquire about the Chlorine Levels

Hotels and neighbourhood swimming pools are obligated to disclose information about their inspection reports. Consult the supervisors to confirm that the pool’s pH levels are between 7 and 8. The optimum value should be 7.4. No exclusions should be made, even if it is a family pool.

Stay Hydrated

It can be very physically demanding to swim. So keeping your body hydrated will be of great assistance both before and during swimming. Your body will continue to receive the nutrients it requires from drinking water if you want your tear ducts to continue generating enough moisture to lubricate your eyes.

While in the Pool, Take Off your Contact Lenses

Swimmers with nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia) may favour using contact lenses while swimming for refractive correction. However, wearing contact lenses while swimming can be hazardous at times. As some contact lenses shrink in water, there is a good chance you will lose them. Besides that, the space between the lens and your eye is ideal for the growth of bacteria and other microbes.

Wash and Hydrate Your Eyes

It is recommended to rinse your eyes with water after swimming. If you swim frequently, carrying artificial tears to cleanse and hydrate your eyes is essential. This is also useful if you have naturally dry eyes. Also, avoid staying in the water for a considerable time and take breaks at periodic intervals.

It is vital to take good care of your eyes as eye-related complaints account for 2-3% of all primary care office visits. Community education with a focus on nutrition and eye care safety can help to prevent eye diseases and injuries. More importantly, an effective primary and preventive eye care programme can train communities to recognise eye ailments. If comprehensive eye care protocols are not adhered to at every institution, eye care will lag behind other types of healthcare and will only add to the nation’s blindness burden.

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