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Year: 2013

New Year's Resolutions for An Eye Healthy 2014

ytsSNcyThe New Year is a time to start fresh and renew our commitment to health, happiness and success. It’s important to include eye and vision health and safety in these resolutions. Here are the top six ways you can make your eyes and vision a priority this year.

  1. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam for each member of your family.

A comprehensive eye exam will ensure not only that your vision is at its best, but will also screen for any eye disease or issues with your eye health. In many cases of eye disease and damage, early detection is essential for treatment and preservation of eyesight.  

  1. Protect your eyes from the sun all year round.

Harmful UV and HEV (high-energy visible) radiation from the sun, and potentially from computer screens and digital devices as well, have been linked to serious eye conditions including macular degeneration, cataracts and non-cancerous and cancerous growths in the eye and eyelids. When you’re outdoors, make sure you wear sunglasses that are 100% protective from these harmful rays. Indoor clear lenses coatings are now available to protect from HEV light.

  1. Know your eye health risk factors.

Knowing who is at risk and catching the signs early are essential to preventing common vision threatening diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy. Being aware of your family history, race, gender and lifestyle and how those factors can contribute to eye diseases, can help you help your doctor to keep a close eye on any signs of disease before it is too late.

  1. Take proper care of contact lenses.

Contact lenses can be one of life’s greatest conveniences but if not cared for properly, they can cause serious and debilitating problems for your eyes. Don’t risk infections, abrasions or even vision loss by skimping on the necessary steps to clean and store your contact lenses. Here is a short video about proper contact cleaning and storage for demonstration purposes only: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNOJ6RM-tts. Always follow your eye doctor’s instructions for care.

  1. Use proper eye protection for sports or work that poses a danger to your eyes.

According to Prevent Blindness America hospital emergency rooms treat more than 700 000 work related eye injuries, 125 000 eye injuries that occur at home and 40 000 sports related eye injuries a year.  Almost all of these injuries can be avoided with proper eye protection. Speak to your eye doctor about your work, hobbies and athletic activities to determine the best protective eyewear for your needs.

  1. Incorporate eye healthy foods in to your regular diet.

Foods that are rich in vitamins and antioxidants play an essential role in the health of your eyes. Research shows that a proper diet can reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye problems. Eat foods that are rich in beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin (such as spinach, kale, red/orange peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash), bioflavonoids (such as tea, red wine, citric fruits, blueberries, cherries, legumes, soy products), Omega-3 Fatty Acids (cold water fish, ground flaxseeds, walnuts) and fruits, vegetables and other foods rich in vitamins A, C and D.  Zinc is also linked to eye health and found in foods such as oysters, beef and dark meat turkey. 

Start the year off right with your eyes on your mind. These six resolutions will not only help you see a wonderful year, but will help you preserve healthy eyes and vision for a lifetime.

New Year’s Resolutions for An Eye Healthy 2014

ytsSNcyThe New Year is a time to start fresh and renew our commitment to health, happiness and success. It’s important to include eye and vision health and safety in these resolutions. Here are the top six ways you can make your eyes and vision a priority this year.

  1. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam for each member of your family.

A comprehensive eye exam will ensure not only that your vision is at its best, but will also screen for any eye disease or issues with your eye health. In many cases of eye disease and damage, early detection is essential for treatment and preservation of eyesight.  

  1. Protect your eyes from the sun all year round.

Harmful UV and HEV (high-energy visible) radiation from the sun, and potentially from computer screens and digital devices as well, have been linked to serious eye conditions including macular degeneration, cataracts and non-cancerous and cancerous growths in the eye and eyelids. When you’re outdoors, make sure you wear sunglasses that are 100% protective from these harmful rays. Indoor clear lenses coatings are now available to protect from HEV light.

  1. Know your eye health risk factors.

Knowing who is at risk and catching the signs early are essential to preventing common vision threatening diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy. Being aware of your family history, race, gender and lifestyle and how those factors can contribute to eye diseases, can help you help your doctor to keep a close eye on any signs of disease before it is too late.

  1. Take proper care of contact lenses.

Contact lenses can be one of life’s greatest conveniences but if not cared for properly, they can cause serious and debilitating problems for your eyes. Don’t risk infections, abrasions or even vision loss by skimping on the necessary steps to clean and store your contact lenses. Here is a short video about proper contact cleaning and storage for demonstration purposes only: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNOJ6RM-tts. Always follow your eye doctor’s instructions for care.

  1. Use proper eye protection for sports or work that poses a danger to your eyes.

According to Prevent Blindness America hospital emergency rooms treat more than 700 000 work related eye injuries, 125 000 eye injuries that occur at home and 40 000 sports related eye injuries a year.  Almost all of these injuries can be avoided with proper eye protection. Speak to your eye doctor about your work, hobbies and athletic activities to determine the best protective eyewear for your needs.

  1. Incorporate eye healthy foods in to your regular diet.

Foods that are rich in vitamins and antioxidants play an essential role in the health of your eyes. Research shows that a proper diet can reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye problems. Eat foods that are rich in beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin (such as spinach, kale, red/orange peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash), bioflavonoids (such as tea, red wine, citric fruits, blueberries, cherries, legumes, soy products), Omega-3 Fatty Acids (cold water fish, ground flaxseeds, walnuts) and fruits, vegetables and other foods rich in vitamins A, C and D.  Zinc is also linked to eye health and found in foods such as oysters, beef and dark meat turkey. 

Start the year off right with your eyes on your mind. These six resolutions will not only help you see a wonderful year, but will help you preserve healthy eyes and vision for a lifetime.

Fun Holiday Gifts That Are GOOD for Children's Vision

girl 20opening 20gift

The holiday season is on our doorstep. With technology so much a part of our lives, the easy go-to gifts for kids often include an enormous array of hand-held video devices and home gaming systems. Did you know that after extensive use these games can be harmful to children’s eyes and might even induce eye strain and focusing issues?

If you want to buy wisely for your children or grandchildren this year,  choose a fun gift that actually develops and promotes visual skills such as eye hand coordination, visualization, depth and space perception and fine motor skills all while they have fun playing.

Here is a list of games and toys that help to develop visual skills, while engaging children in fun activities. 

First, a basic rule:  Always ensure the toys are suited to the child's development and level of maturity. Manufacturers often provide suggested ages for a toy, but keep the individual child in mind as children develop at different rates.

  1.  What to buy: building toys

How they help children's vision: develop eye hand coordination and visualization and imagination skills.

Examples: Lego, Duplo, Mega Bloks, Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, Clics

   2.  What to buy: fine motor skill toys and arts and crafts

How they help children's vision: develop visual skills and manual eye hand coordination.

Examples: finger paints, playdough, coloring books, dot to dot activities, pegboard and pegs, origami sets, stringing beads, whiteboard/easel/chalkboard.

   3.  What to buy: space perception toys and games

How they help children's vision: develop depth perception and eye hand coordination.

Examples within arm’s length: pick- up sticks, marbles, Jenga

Examples beyond arm’s length: any kind of ball, ping pong, bean bag toss.

   4.  What to buy: visual/spatial thinking toys and games

How they help children's vision: develop visual thinking including visualization, visual memory, form perception, pattern recognition, sequencing and eye tracking skills. These skills are vital basics for academics including mathematics, reading and spelling.

Examples: memory games, jigsaw puzzles, Rory's story cubes, card games (Old Maid, Go Fish, etc.), Dominoes, checkers, Chinese checkers, Rush Hour/Rush Hour Jr., Bingo, Color Code, Math Dice.  

   5.  What to buy: balance and coordination toys and games

How they help children's vision: develop gross motor skills which require use of vision

Examples: jump rope, trampoline, stilts, Twister.

As you can see, there are plenty of amazing toys available to improve your child's visual skills. The best part is, many of them take the children away from the screen and get them thinking, moving and creating. This year, choose a holiday present that will help your children grow, develop and see a better future. 

Fun Holiday Gifts That Are GOOD for Children’s Vision

girl 20opening 20gift

The holiday season is on our doorstep. With technology so much a part of our lives, the easy go-to gifts for kids often include an enormous array of hand-held video devices and home gaming systems. Did you know that after extensive use these games can be harmful to children’s eyes and might even induce eye strain and focusing issues?

If you want to buy wisely for your children or grandchildren this year,  choose a fun gift that actually develops and promotes visual skills such as eye hand coordination, visualization, depth and space perception and fine motor skills all while they have fun playing.

Here is a list of games and toys that help to develop visual skills, while engaging children in fun activities. 

First, a basic rule:  Always ensure the toys are suited to the child's development and level of maturity. Manufacturers often provide suggested ages for a toy, but keep the individual child in mind as children develop at different rates.

  1.  What to buy: building toys

How they help children's vision: develop eye hand coordination and visualization and imagination skills.

Examples: Lego, Duplo, Mega Bloks, Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, Clics

   2.  What to buy: fine motor skill toys and arts and crafts

How they help children's vision: develop visual skills and manual eye hand coordination.

Examples: finger paints, playdough, coloring books, dot to dot activities, pegboard and pegs, origami sets, stringing beads, whiteboard/easel/chalkboard.

   3.  What to buy: space perception toys and games

How they help children's vision: develop depth perception and eye hand coordination.

Examples within arm’s length: pick- up sticks, marbles, Jenga

Examples beyond arm’s length: any kind of ball, ping pong, bean bag toss.

   4.  What to buy: visual/spatial thinking toys and games

How they help children's vision: develop visual thinking including visualization, visual memory, form perception, pattern recognition, sequencing and eye tracking skills. These skills are vital basics for academics including mathematics, reading and spelling.

Examples: memory games, jigsaw puzzles, Rory's story cubes, card games (Old Maid, Go Fish, etc.), Dominoes, checkers, Chinese checkers, Rush Hour/Rush Hour Jr., Bingo, Color Code, Math Dice.  

   5.  What to buy: balance and coordination toys and games

How they help children's vision: develop gross motor skills which require use of vision

Examples: jump rope, trampoline, stilts, Twister.

As you can see, there are plenty of amazing toys available to improve your child's visual skills. The best part is, many of them take the children away from the screen and get them thinking, moving and creating. This year, choose a holiday present that will help your children grow, develop and see a better future. 

What You Should Know about Diabetes and Your Vision

couple 20walking 20away

Diabetes affects people of all ages, races and genders. An estimated 25.8 million Americans or 8.3 percent of the population suffer from the disease, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011. In fact, diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults in the North America.

If you or someone you care for has diabetes, here are 6 things you need to know about how it impacts eyes and vision.

  1. What is diabetic eye disease?
    Diabetic eye disease is most commonly associated with diabetic retinopathy, which is characterized by damage to the blood vessels of the retina and can lead to blindness. According to the National Eye Institute, it can also cause premature cataracts and glaucoma.
  2. How does it impact vision?
    In diabetic retinopathy, the small blood vessels that nourish the retina at the back of the eye become weak as a result of fluctuating sugar levels in the bloodstream. This causes bleeding at the back of the eye, reduced circulation and less oxygen and nutrients reaching the retina. As a result, new fragile blood vessels are produced to compensate. However, the abnormal blood vessels can start leaking fluid and small amounts of blood into the retina, causing vision loss. In the worst cases, the retina can scar or detach, causing permanent vision loss.
  3. What are the symptoms?
    At first, someone with diabetic retinopathy may not experience any noticeable symptoms. That is why early detection is crucial and diabetics should have a dilated eye exam at least once a year to screen for diabetic retinopathy. In most cases, by the time you realize something is wrong, the disease is so far advanced that lost vision can’t be restored.

    In its advanced stage symptoms may include:

    • Fluctuating vision
    • Eye floaters and spots
    • The development of a shadow in your field of view
    • Blurry vision, or double vision
  4. Who is at risk?
    Anyone who has diabetes type 1 or type 2 has a greater chance of developing vision loss. Even gestational diabetes and pre-diabetes increase the risk of diabetic eye disease. An estimated 40 to 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some degree of diabetic retinopathy, according to the NEI. That is why anyone with diabetes should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely it is to have an effect on your vision.

    Race and family history can also put you at risk for the disease. If you are of Hispanic, African, Asian, Pacific Island, or Native American descent, you are more likely to develop diabetes. Lifestyle – including your weight, diet and how active you are – also plays a role in the development and management of diabetes, as well as its effect on the eyes.

  5. How is diabetic eye disease treated?
    There are effective medical treatments, including injections into the eye to prevent leaking blood vessels and laser treatment to prevent and reduce vision loss as a result of diabetes, but early detection and treatment are vital!
  6. What steps can I take to reduce diabetes related vision loss?
    Make sure to keep your blood sugar levels under control and monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol. Speak to your doctor about what your target goals should be to prevent further deterioration. Often, when diabetes causes damage to the eyes, it is also an indication of the damage occurring in the kidneys and other areas in the body with small nerves and blood vessels, too. Exercise, maintain a healthy diet and keep your cholesterol levels low. Schedule eye exams yearly or as often as your eye doctor and medical doctor advise.

Knowing the risks and symptoms of diabetic retinopathy is not enough. If you or a loved one has diabetes, don’t take chances. The only real way to safeguard your vision is by making your eye health a priority.

Take a diabetes risk test.

Keeping Your Contact Lenses Clean

contact in solution

If you wear contact lenses, you probably know the hygiene routine you should follow when removing your lenses:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and dry them on a clean, lint free cloth.
  2. Remove the lens from your eye and clean the lens immediately (if you wear multi-use lenses). Gently rinse it with the solution recommended by your optometrist, and scrub it clean from edge to edge with solution. Do not wait until morning to rub the lenses, as the debris gets stuck on the lens and delayed cleaning will not be as effective.
  3. Place the contact lens in a contact lens storage case that’s filled with fresh, clean disinfecting or multi-purpose solution and close the lid. If you wear daily disposables, throw them away after use.

Even if you know these guidelines, if you're honest with yourself, how many times have you NOT followed this optometrist prescribed routine and taken short cuts in your contact lens hygiene such as:

  • Cleaning your contacts with saliva or water
  • Storing lenses in liquids other than proper multi-purpose or disinfecting solution. (Saline is NOT a disinfectant.)
  • Not following the proper wearing schedule (wearing dailies for more than one day, monthlies longer than a month, sleeping in daytime lenses, etc.)
  • Sleeping or swimming in your lenses

In fact, a vision scientist at the University of Texas surveyed 443 contact lens patients and found that less than one percent cared for their lenses properly. 

Here are some of the most common mistakes made in caring for contact lenses and why it’s important to change your habits now.

The Mistake: Storing or washing contact lenses in tap water.
The Risk: Although this seems harmless, tap water can cause serious damage to your eyes. Since regular tap water is not sterile, it can cause infections, like Acanthomaeoba.  Homemade saline has also been known to lead to certain fungal eye infections.
The Solution: Never wash or store lenses in tap water or any liquid other than contact lens solution. Even more so try to avoid swimming or showering with your lenses in to avoid contact with tap or chlorine filled water.

The Mistake: Using saliva to wash lenses.
The Risk:  Saliva is full of bacteria that belong in your mouth and not in your eyes. If you have a cut in your eye, the bacteria could get trapped under your lens and cause an infection.
The Solution: Always carry a small container of lens solution or artificial tears. If your lenses are bothering you, either use proper solution or remove them until you are able to treat them properly.  

The Mistake: Reuse cleaning solution or topping off your lens storage case.
The Risk: Reusing solution is like begging for an eye infection. This is because all the debris and bacteria that are in your eyes and are on your contact lenses come off into the solution. So if you recycle solution, you are putting all that bacteria right back into your eye. If you have any microscopic breaks in your cornea, the bacteria can then infect your cornea.
The Solution:  Use fresh solution every time you store your contact lenses. Also be sure to empty out ALL the remaining solution from your storage case from the previous day before adding new solution to it. If this is too much to remember or do, try using daily disposable lenses.

The Mistake: Not adhering to the schedule for the prescribed lenses. (Note: Certain extended wear lenses are approved for 30 days wear, but proper fit is essential for success even if the lens allows high oxygen permeability.)
The Risk: After the approved time for contact lens use, today’s thin contact lenses do not retain their shape and structure. If you re-wear lenses that are meant to be used for a specified time period, mucus and bacteria can build up because cleaning solutions do not protect the lenses for longer than the approved wearing time. Between the lens changes and the tendency for contamination, you increase the risk of eye irritation and infection.
The solution: Follow the recommended schedule you are given for wearing your lenses.

The Mistake: Wearing contact lenses when your vision is blurry or your eyes hurt a little
The Risk: When in doubt, take them out! If your lenses cause you any discomfort, or your eyes look a bit red, listen to your body rather than suffering through the discomfort that can potentially develop into an infection.
The Solution: If your eyes are bothering you, first try applying lubricating drops made for contact lens wearers.  If that doesn’t help, take the lenses out and check them to make sure they are not damaged or dirty. If it does not look good to you, do not use it.

Improper contact lens hygiene can lead to, red eyes, blurry vision, irritation, and in the most severe cases serious infections and corneal abrasion, which can lead to blindness. So the bottom line is: listen to your optometrists’ instructions and keep your lenses clean!

For more information, watch this video on contact lens care:

10 Tips to Protect Your Vision

eyes female blue

Did you forget to put on your sunglasses today? Are you constantly sitting in front of a computer screen without taking breaks to look away? Maybe you also skipped your yearly eye exam, again. These are just some of the things we tend to overlook when it comes to our eye health. But these seemingly innocent oversights, along with small decisions that we make on a daily basis can eventually take a toll on our eyes and our vision.

Now is the time to make changes to safeguard your vision – it's never too late to change a routine or break a habit. Here are a few tips that will help you get your eye health and vision on track in the blink of an eye.

1.     Keep Screens at a Distance.
Screens and monitors are part of our everyday lives. We encounter them everywhere, from our personal smartphones, desktop computers, tablets and MP3's to movie theatres, sports games, airports, train stations and subways. Throughout the day, we tend to look at screens for long periods of time and we may work from handheld devices at much closer distances than we would read printed pages. Glare from screens can lead to eyestrain and computer vision syndrome. It’s recommended to position your computer screen at least an arm's length away and hold handheld devices 16 inches away from your eyes.

2.     Blink, Blink, Blink. Another result of extensive device use is that your blink rate tends to drop when you stare at text on a screen. Not blinking often enough can lead to dry, irritated eyes.  Apply the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds and don’t forget to blink!

3.     Always wear your sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays when you are outside or driving during daylight. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays during any time of year can lead to cataracts or age-related macular degeneration (AMD) as well as sunburns on your eyes in extreme cases. Make sure that your sunglasses block 99 percent of UVA and UVB rays.

4.     Eat seafood with Omega -3’s. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel and sardines, may help lower the risk of dry eyes and eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. If you don’t like seafood, consider taking fish oil supplements or other supplements that contain omega 3’s such as black current seed or flaxseed oils.

5.     Go for Greens. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, zucchini, peas, avocado and Brussels sprouts contain lutein and zeaxanthin. The AREDS 2 – Age Related Eye Disease Study – research conducted by the National Eye Institute (NEI) demonstrated that certain dietary supplements including these important pigments help prevent the progression of some eye diseases.

6.     Drink green tea. Green tea is another great source of antioxidants which keep eyes healthy and defends them from cataracts and AMD development.

7.     Care for your contact lenses. Always wash your hands before inserting or removing contacts and store them properly in cleansing solution. Never use any substances other than proper contact lens solution and make sure you follow your eye doctor’s instructions for proper use, because some eye drops contain ingredients which can react badly with your contact lenses. Keep a backup pair of glasses for days when the contacts “don’t feel right” or if you develop an eye infection. Do not wear contacts for longer than they’re supposed to be worn. If you keep waiting until your eyes begin to feel irritated before you change to a new pair of lenses, the eyes can gradually get desensitized, and damage may occur before the lenses feel dry.

8.     Throw away old eye makeup such as mascara that is over four months old. Sharpen eyeliner pencils regularly and don’t put liner on the inside of your eye lid. If your eyes become irritated, stop using eye makeup until they heal.

9.      Protect your eyes from danger. Always wear protective eyewear or safety goggles if your work requires eye protection and when working in the garden, doing home repairs or when dealing with strong cleaning substances such as bleach or oven cleaners.

10.      Visit your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year. Yearly eye exams are not only helpful in detecting early signs of eye disease, they are also an important indicator of your overall health. An eye exam can detect signs of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, brain tumors, aneurysms, and multiple sclerosis. Proper attention to vision problems can also enhance your safety and quality of life.

Knowing what you have to do is the first step in keeping your eyes and vision safe. Thinking about your eyes and vision and forming the right habits will lead to a lifetime of good vision.

This Halloween Be Wary of Costume Contact Lenses

blue 20eye 20between 20fingers

As Halloween approaches and costume planning gets more serious, many consider the use of novelty or costume contact lenses as a way to add that extra flair. Whether you are dressing up as a cat, a vampire, or looking for something fun that glows in the dark, dressing up your eyes can certainly add the finishing touch to your outfit. However, most people are unaware that costume contact lenses can pose a serious danger to your sight. If used improperly and bought without a medical prescription from an eye care professional, costume contact lenses can cause serious infection, corneal abrasions and in some cases lead to permanent vision loss. 

As contact lenses are considered a medical device they need to be prescribed and fitted by a licensed eye care professional, according to the FDA and Health Canada. Most of the lenses sold in novelty and retail stores are not approved by the FDA or Health Canada. This is because the material they are made from can scratch your cornea, distort your vision or cause an infection. In fact it is illegal for retailers to sell any kind of contact lenses without a prescription. That’s why contact lenses for costumes are often purchased at discounted rates online, where regulations are negligible.

Here are a few tips to take into consideration if you decide to use costume contact lenses on Halloween or at any other time during the year.

1.     Visit your eye doctor for a thorough eye exam. Your doctor will also measure your eyes for the correct contact lens fit and explain the correct way to use and care for your lenses. This rule applies even if you have perfect vision.

2.     Purchase costume contacts only from a retailer that requests a prescription and sells FDA approved colored lenses.

3.     Be sure to follow the instructions for contact lens usage, care and cleaning.

4.     If you experience redness, swelling or discharge, remove your lenses and seek medical attention from your eye doctor.

5.     Do not share your contact lenses with anyone else.

6.     Schedule a follow up eye exam with your eye care professional.

Don't let an impulsive buy from a costume store ruin your vision.

For more information, watch the FDA's video on improper use of decorative lenses below:

How to Prevent Dry Eyes During Air Travel

backpack 20man

Many travelers experience dry eyes after extended travel by air. The dry environment of a temperature- and pressure-controlled air plane cabin can take its toll on your eyes.

The good news is there are a number of steps you can take to reduce the uncomfortable symptoms associated with travelers’ dry eye. Here are some tips to keep in mind when traveling to help prevent dry eye:

  1. Since dehydration makes dry eye symptoms worse, drink consistently before, during and after the flight. If you enjoy an on-flight alcoholic drink or caffeinated tea or coffee, be sure to drink extra fluids to rehydrate.
  2. Make sure to pack a bottle of artificial tears to apply as needed. If you suffer from dry eyes on a regular basis, consult with your eye care professional before you fly as you might need a more effective lubricant to keep with you on the flight.
  3. Use an eye mask to protect your eyes while sleeping.
  4. If you wear contact lenses, switch to a pair of glasses for the duration of the flight to avoid additional dryness that often accompanies contact lens use.
  5. Turn off the air conditioning vent above your seat to prevent dry air from blowing directly into your face.

Does Chlorine Hurt your Eyes?

little girls swimming

Just because the summer is coming to an end, doesn’t mean that we have to say goodbye to the swimming pool. Whether it means a nice refreshing dip on a warm fall afternoon or a winter swim in an indoor pool, swimming is a great activity for both fun and exercise. Nevertheless, have you ever wondered if all of this splashing around in chlorine-filled water can affect your eyes and vision?

Swimming pool water is chlorinated to keep it sanitized. The chlorine helps reduce water-borne bacteria and viruses to prevent pathogens and disease from spreading. While chlorine is a successful water sanitizer, its efficacy depends on a number of factors including how recently it was added to the water, the concentration of the chemical and how much the pool is used.

When your eyes are submerged in chlorinated pool water, the tear film that usually acts as a defensive shield for your cornea is washed away. This means that your eyes are no longer protected from dirt or bacteria that are not entirely eliminated by the treated pool water. So, swimmers can be prone to eye infections. One of the most common eye infections from swimming is conjunctivitis or pink eye, which can either be viral or bacterial.

Another eye issue that often develops from contact with chlorinated water is red, irritated eyes. When your cornea dehydrates as a result of exposure to chlorine, the irritation is often accompanied by blurriness, which can result in distorted vision temporarily. Although these symptoms usually disappear within a few minutes, the recovery time tends to increase with age. Using lubricating eye drops can help alleviate symptoms by restoring the hydrating, protective tear shield in your eye.

If you wear contact lenses, be sure to remove them before jumping in the pool. Contact lens patients are prone to an eye infection called acanthamoebic keratitis, which develops when a type of amoeba gets trapped in the space between the cornea and the contact lens and begins to live there. This infection can result in permanent visual impairment or lead to ulcers on the cornea. If you have taken a dip with contacts on, be sure to remove your lenses, rinse them with lens solution and refrain from sleeping in them after you've had a swim.            

There is no way to be one hundred percent sure of what is floating around in a swimming pool, so the best way to protect your eyes is to use water-tight goggles that fit you well. This way you can enjoy your swim without risking your eyes or your vision.

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