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How to Keep Your Eyes Clear and Healthy After a Day at the Pool

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During the summer, when many people spend time in the valleys or the sea, it’s particularly important to be cautious of eye diseases. Places with a lot of water tend to have high humidity, which can promote the growth of viruses. Let’s explore the typical eye diseases that can be contracted while playing in the water and how to prevent them.

Feeling swollen or irritated after water play?

You may have infectious conjunctivitis if your eyes turn red or hurt after playing in the water. This infection conjunctivitis, caused by various microorganisms, can be divided into viral, bacterial, or fungal conjunctivitis, depending on the cause. Infectious conjunctivitis is, as the name suggests, caused by infection. It can quickly spread in crowded places like swimming pools or water parks if you come into contact with someone who already has conjunctivitis.

Strong infectiousness

In particular, acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis can be highly contagious for about two weeks after onset, so it’s best to avoid contact with others during this time. During this period of high contagion, it might be a good idea to limit going out. If one family member is infected, the entire family could be infected, so it’s essential to use towels, soap, bedding, etc., separately.

Avoid wearing contact lenses

Suppose you wear contact lenses and play in the water for long. In that case, the cornea may not receive enough oxygen, leading to corneal edema, and the cornea’s surface can rupture, increasing the risk of bacterial infection. Even if the water seems clean, the microorganisms or bacteria can stick to the lens and the cornea, making it easy to get infected. In particular, if you wear lenses and play in the water, you are said to be 400 times more likely to get infected with Acanthamoeba than the general population.

Wear swimming goggles

If you must wear lenses, wearing swimming goggles is better, even if uncomfortable. After playing in the water, rinsing your eyes with artificial tears is also a good idea. Alternatively, you could replace the lenses in your goggles with prescription ones. Even if you wear goggles, you should visit a hospital for treatment if you experience discomfort, such as bloodshot eyes or eye discharge, after playing in the water.

Underwent vision correction surgery?

If you’ve had vision correction surgery like LASIK or LASEK, you should wait at least two weeks to a month before engaging in water activities. The time may vary depending on the type of surgery. Still, since your eyes are sensitive after surgery and swimming pools can be contaminated with chlorine or other substances, there’s a risk of infection that could lead to complications.

What if sand gets in your eyes while playing in the water?

While playing in the water, things like sand can get into your eyes. In this case, rinse your eyes with saline solution or artificial tears. If a foreign object enters your eye, it usually comes out naturally over time. However, there’s a possibility that the foreign object could remain in the lacrimal sac or get stuck in the cornea, and secondary infection due to the foreign object could lead to conjunctivitis. You should visit an ophthalmologist if your vision is still impaired after washing with clean saline.

Exposure to strong sunlight can cause eyeburns

The surfaces of water and sand at the beach or swimming pool reflect many ultraviolet(UV) rays. When your eyes are exposed to these reflected rays, you can develop photokeratitis, which can cause symptoms like bloodshot eyes, pain, and blurred vision. Moreover, UV rays can reach not only the surface of the eyeball but also the lens and retina, so long-term exposure to UV rays over several years can accelerate the aging of the eyes and lead to various eye diseases.

Choose sunglasses carefully

Wearing sunglasses is the easiest way to prevent eye damage from UV rays. However, not all sunglasses are suitable. Wearing certain sunglasses can be more problematic, specifically those with dark lenses and poor UV-blocking capabilities. Dark-colored lenses reduce the visible light coming into the eyes, causing the pupils, which act like the eyes’ aperture, to enlarge. When the pupils are enlarged, more unblocked UV rays can enter, which is dangerous. In such cases, UV rays reaching the eyes can increase compared to not wearing sunglasses.

Relieve eye fatigue regularly

If your eyes become fatigued and dry, you could develop dry eye syndrome. If the fatigue doesn’t ease, the oil secretion gland can become blocked, causing fatigue in the ciliary muscle when you overuse your eyes. Resting the ciliary muscle includes closing your eyes so they don’t adjust or looking into the distance to relax the ciliary muscle fully.

Massage your eyelids and apply warm compresses

The oil produced by the meibomian glands in your eyelids creates an oil layer in your tears, which helps prevent the evaporation of your tears and reduces the symptoms of dry eye syndrome. Massaging your eyelids can be beneficial to keep these glands functioning properly and to ensure they secrete clear oil. Close your eyes, place your fingers horizontally below your lower lashes, and gently push up. For the upper eyelids, do the reverse and push down. Also, applying a warm compress can help. Soak a towel in warm water, wring it out, and place it over your closed eyes for 5-10 minutes.

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