Chlorine’s Effects on the Eyes

arztsamui, fdpThe cold, bright blue pool water here in the Triangle feels so refreshing in the summertime heat! Not only is swimming a great way to cool off, but it’s also great exercise. From diving for rings to making a splash with cannonballs, few residents in the Triangle would argue that an afternoon at the pool is anything short of a summer day well-spent. However, it’s important to practice proper eye care in the pool!

What really causes red, irritated eyes after swimming? It’s most often the result of dehydration of the cornea due to chlorine exposure. The irritation can sometimes be accompanied (temporarily) by blurry vision. Although this usually goes away within minutes, the ability to recover quickly reduces as we age. And there really is no quick way to sooth irritated eyes. Doctor approved lubricating eye drops for dryness, and cold compresses can help to reduce inflammation and irritation.

Another risk non-goggle-wearing swimmers face is an eye infection because sweat isn’t the only thing that gets washed away while swimming! If a swimmer’s eyes are open in the pool, the tear film (which protects the cornea) can be affected. When this happens, eyes are more prone to infections like conjunctivitis (pink eye) because the tear film isn’t doing its job protecting the eyes from dirt and bacteria. If eyes have been exposed to chlorine, be sure to flush them thoroughly with warm water or saline solution to get rid of irritants on the eye’s surface.

Contact-wearers, be sure to remove the contact lenses before going for a swim. This will help prevent an uncomfortable infection called Acanthamoebic Keratitis. This condition is caused by a type of amoeba getting stuck between the cornea and contact lens. If left untreated, this can lead to ulcers on the cornea and permanent vision problems. If contacts have been left in while swimming, be sure to remove the lenses, rinse them with lens solution, and avoid sleeping in them after swimming.

When does a patient come in to see Beth R. Friedland M.D. at Park Ophthalmology? If swimmers are experiencing irritation for more than a few hours after getting out of the pool, aren’t responding to home remedies, or experiencing eye discharge, it is time to see the Doctor.

Remember, the best care is preventative care. Wear well-fitting, water-tight goggles to keep eyes healthy this summer.


Park Ophthalmology welcomes patients from all areas of the Triangle and offers a wide variety of specialized services including surgery for diseases of the eye, vision examinations, eye safety information, sports medicine protective eyewear and counseling, contact lenses and evaluation, and all types of ocular diagnosis and treatment. Many types of surgery are available, including cataract and laser surgery. We are here for you and your eye and overall health. Give us a call today!

This article about eye exams is brought to you by the professional team at Park Ophthalmology located in the Triangle Region of North Carolina.

The information contained in this blog article is intended solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be offered as medical advice.


Park Ophthalmology

5306 NC Highway 55, Suite 102 (adjacent to the RTP/ Research Triangle Park)

Durham, NC 27713

Office: 919 544 5375

Fax: 919 544 5829


Park Ophthalmology North

6512 Six Forks Road, Suite 105

Raleigh, NC 27615

919 846 6915

Photo: Arztsamui,

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