Why do I get bloodshot eyes after swimming?
Every time I (my child) spends time in the swimming pool I (they) get blood shot and sore eyes. Sometimes a headache too. Why is this?
Sore eyes from swimming?
My eyes sting and are red for some time after swimming, apart from wearing swimming goggles any alternative ideas would be gratefully received.
Do these complaints seem familiar to you? They should be. As a swimming teacher I get them all the time.
I find it disturbing that the only answer that people are given is to Change their pool or get the management to fix the chlorine or the PH levels. It is true that high chlorine levels can cause sore eyes especially if they are accompanied by a headache but this is not always and in fact not usually the problem. The problem and indeed the answer is often much simpler.
If you are getting headaches after swimming you should check with the swimming pool management to see if the levels are correct but it is most uncommon for a pool owner (unless it is a backyard pool) not to have regular checks of the levels. In Australia it is essentially law that the pools must be checked every 4 hours. And most responsible pool own / operators would clear the pool if the check came up wrong, until the levels are corrected.
So that is probably not the reason for sore eyes in most cases. No, the answer is usually that most swimmers "RUB" their eyes when they come up out of the water. It's the first thing that most swimmers do when they lift their head from the water. They "RUB"!
Think about it, when you rub you eyes even under normal circumstances you very gently scratch you eye balls. Out of pool water this is not a problem as your tear ducts lubricate you eyes as you do it. But pool water is designed to break down such lubricants as a part of its purification process so when you rub your eyes in the pool you actually are rubbing eyes that are dryer than normal. Add to this, there is stuff on your hands, sweat and other normal stuff that gets onto your hands from daily living, that gets rubbed into your eyes when you rub. Not to mention that you are rubbing chlorinated water from your hand into your eyes with you fingers. No wonder you get sore eyes from the pool even if the levels are correct.
The solution is to stop rubbing your eyes when you are in the pool. You should blink instead. Lots of blinking.
I spend up to eight hours a day in the pool and never get sore eyes. Now I will admit that I do try to minimize the amount of time I get splashed or have to put my head under water but still I don't rub my eyes and I don't get sore eyes from such long exposure.
I take a lot of time to convince my swimming students to blink when they come out of the water and never to touch their eyes. As soon as they leave the water I say "Blink Blink blink" "Open shut them Open shut them". I do this because it works and I don't have students with sore eyes.
I even have a little poem that goes:
Creep them, creep them,
Creep them, creep them,
Right up to your eyes,
Open up your little eyes,
But do not let them in
The "Them" is of course the swimming students fingers and I get them to creep their fingers up their chest to their cheeks.
Sore eyes are even common for people who were goggles and it is usually the same thing that causes it. Rubbing Eyes.
How can that be you say?
Well what's the first thing that people do when they come up from laps and take their goggles off?
Rub their eyes?
Don't do it and you will have sore eyes less often. Unless the pool levels are off.
If this doesn't fix your sore eyes, you should consult with your doctor as you may be allergic to the pool water.