“It’s just part of swimming,” said Mom.
Yes, we all remember a time or two swimming as a kid and feeling that stinging in our eyes. As kids or adults, itching, burning, and stinging are not words we want to associate with time at the pool. But, was Mom right? Is eye irritation just a normal part of being in the pool? Let’s take a look at what causes this problem and possible ways to prevent it.
What Causes Eye Irritation at the Pool?
- Improper Chlorine Levels
Most people assume the primary reason for your eyes stinging in the pool is because of too much chlorine in the water. In reality, it’s just the opposite and the water has too little chlorine. Here’s the science behind it. When chlorine interacts with organic matter or contaminants in the water, it creates what are called chloramines. Chloramines are not effective at sanitizing the water and can easily irritate your eyes.
In addition to burning your eyes, high chloramine levels can cause skin irritations and give off that strong “pool” smell that is often confused with chlorine. Plus, according to the CDC, chloramines in the air can have further negative effects on those with respiratory or asthma concerns. This can include symptoms such as nasal irritation, coughing, and wheezing.
- Improper pH Levels
Improper pH levels in the pool water can also play a role in eye irritation. pH measures the acidity or alkalinity of a substance, and the ideal pH level for pool water is between 7.2 and 7.8. If the pH level is too high or too low, it can cause eye irritation. Typically, high pH levels can make your eyes feel dry and irritated, while low pH levels can cause stinging and redness.
- Eyes Sensitivity
For some people, their eyes are more sensitive and prone to irritation. However, with properly balanced pool chemicals, it should be less of a concern for all.
Ways to Prevent Eye Irritation While Swimming
- Wear Goggles
For some, wearing goggles when swimming can be a valuable option. Goggles create a barrier between the water and your eyes to prevent any irritation from occurring. Keep in mind, it is not recommended to wear contacts while swimming. Prescription goggles are an alternative for those who need them.
Additionally, do not get in the pool if you have recently had an eye injury or eye surgery. According to Cleveland Clinic ophthalmologist Richard Gans, it’s also a good idea to rinse your eyes with cool, clean water or saline drops when you’re done swimming.
- Rinse Before Entering the Pool
To help prevent contaminants from entering the water in the first place, it’s a good idea for all swimmers to rinse off before entering the pool. A quick shower can help remove sweat, lotions, hair products, etc., that can negatively affect the pool’s chemical levels.
- Stay on Top of Pool Maintenance
Regular pool maintenance is crucial to keeping pool chemicals in check and, therefore, keeping your eyes sting-free. If you believe your chlorine or pH levels are not correct, start by testing and balancing the water. Additionally, it’s a good idea to shock the pool water on a weekly basis or after lots of users have been in the water.
So, no, Mom. Eye irritation doesn’t have to be a regular part of swimming. Instead, it can be prevented when pool chemicals are properly kept. For consistent and professional quality pool maintenance, contact our team at A-Quality Pools. With our regular pool service, we will test and balance your water on a weekly basis to keep all your pool chemicals within the right range. Sign up for our routine pool service today to help prevent your family from experiencing eye discomfort this summer.