A Guide to Protecting Your Eyes and Ears While Swimming

Jul 06, 2017 in Eye Care

People in swimming pool

Whether you’re a novice paddler or a seasoned speed demon, swimming is one of the few exercises that appeals to almost everyone. What’s more, it works nearly every muscle group and helps you stay trim and healthy, so it’ll come as no surprise that regular swimming can cut the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

But there are a few basic principles you need to follow to look after your eyes and ears while you’re in the water. Here are our top tips:

Watch out for swimmer’s eye (irritant conjunctivitis)

We’ll start with the yuckiest condition first. If you suffer from bloodshot eyes following a dip in your local pool, you might blame chlorine (the strong-smelling chemical added to swimming pools to keep them bacteria free).

But the truth is a little more complicated: chlorine chemically breaks down nasty things in the pool like urine and sweat, but the process can take time. During that time, the chlorine and the contaminants bind together. The resulting concoction can cause your eyes to sting.

How to protect your eyes while in and around a swimming pool:

  • Wear swimming goggles while swimming
  • Don’t wear contact lenses when you’re swimming
  • If you do have red, irritated eyes, try Thealoz Duo eye drops
  • Avoid blue-green algae in open swimming areas
  • Protect your eyes out of the pool by wearing UV-rated sunglasses

This condition is also known as irritant conjunctivitis. It can be caused by anything that irritates the membrane on the surface of the eye and inside of the eyelids (the conjunctiva). It’s not just chlorinated swimming pools: shampoo, smoke fumes or a stray eyelash can also make your eyes itchy and red.

How to protect your ears while swimming

Getting water in your ears is almost always harmless. But if your ears don’t dry out, the moisture trapped in your ear canal can lead to a bacterial condition called otitis externa – also known as ‘swimmer’s ear’.

Symptoms include, ear pain (sometimes severe), an itchy sensation inside the ear canal, a pus-like discharge, or even temporary hearing loss. In most cases swimmer’s ear responds well to treatment, clearing up in just a few days.

How to avoid swimmer’s ear:

  • Use a soft towel to dry around your ears after you swim
  • Tilt your head to each side and let the water drip out
  • Avoid the temptation to use cotton buds
  • Avoid getting water or shampoo in your ears while bathing
  • Try using ear plugs, such as ACS Swim Plugs, that create a waterproof seal that prevents water getting into your ear canal.

Don’t tread water, give us a call

If you suspect your have swimmer’s eye or swimmer’s ear, or want advice on ACS Swim Plugs, UV-rated sunglasses or Thealoz Duo eye drops, pop into your local branch of Leightons. Our qualified experts will be more than happy to help. Call us today on 0800 40 20 20.