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February 25, 2019
James Setton

How to get rid of blurry eyes after swimming?

Last Updated: April 26, 2024

Taking a refreshing dip in a pool can be a fantastic way to cool down on a hot day. But for many swimmers, the enjoyment can be cut short by eye irritation and blurry vision. This hazy, uncomfortable sensation, often referred to as “swimmer’s eye,” is a common experience caused by exposure to pool chemicals, particularly chlorine.

This article discusses the causes of a swimmer’s eye, effective prevention strategies, and remedies for cloudy and blurry vision after swimming.

Keep your eyes from getting blurry after swimming

Swimmer’s Eye and Cloudy Vision

Swimmer’s eye, or chemical conjunctivitis, is a mild irritation of the conjunctiva, the thin, transparent membrane lining the front of your eye and eyelid. Exposure to chlorine, a common disinfectant used in pools, disrupts the tear film, a protective layer that lubricates the eye and helps wash away dust and debris. This disruption can lead to:

Redness: The irritated conjunctiva becomes inflamed, causing the whites of your eyes to appear red and bloodshot.

Burning or Stinging: The disrupted tear film exposes the delicate surface of the eye, leading to a burning or stinging sensation.

Itching: Inflammation can trigger itchy eyes, further increasing discomfort.

Blurry Vision: Disruption of the tear film can cause temporary fluctuations in the eye’s ability to focus, leading to blurry or cloudy vision.

Causes of Eye Irritation: Chlorine and Other Factors

While chlorine is the primary culprit behind swimmer’s eye, other factors can contribute to eye irritation:

Improperly Maintained Pools

Pools with unbalanced pH levels (too acidic or alkaline) can exacerbate eye irritation. A high pH level can make the chlorine more reactive and irritating to the eyes. Conversely, a low pH can make the water feel acidic and uncomfortable.

Other Chemicals

Some pools may use additional disinfectants or algaecides that can irritate sensitive eyes. These chemicals, while necessary for pool maintenance, can further disrupt the tear film and cause inflammation.

Contact Lenses

Wearing contact lenses while swimming can trap chlorine and other chemicals against your eyes, increasing irritation. Soft contact lenses are particularly susceptible to absorbing these chemicals.

Prevention Strategies and Remedies for Cloudy and Blurry Vision

Here’s how to prevent and manage swimmer’s eye, ensuring comfortable and clear vision during your next swim:

Wear Goggles

This is the most effective way to prevent chlorine and other chemicals from reaching your eyes. Choose goggles that fit snugly around your eyes to minimize leakage. Look for goggles made with anti-fog coating for optimal clarity underwater. Consider options with different nose bridge styles and adjustable straps to ensure a comfortable fit.

Rinse Before and After Swimming

Rinse your eyes with clean, cool water before entering the pool to remove any pre-existing irritants like dust or pollen. After swimming, thoroughly rinse your eyes again for at least 30 seconds to remove chlorine and other chemicals. Use a gentle stream of water and avoid rubbing your eyes, as this can further irritate them.

Take Breaks

Limit your time spent swimming, especially during peak sun hours when chlorine levels might be higher. Taking breaks allows your eyes to recover and replenish their natural tear film.

Use Artificial Tears

Lubricating eye drops can help soothe irritated eyes and replenish the tear film. Look for preservative-free artificial tears specifically formulated for sensitive eyes. Consider using them before swimming as a preventative measure and again afterward to alleviate any discomfort.

Maintain Eyelid Hygiene

Blepharitis, or inflammation of the eyelids, can contribute to eye irritation and dry eye. Regularly cleaning your eyelids with a gentle cleanser can help prevent this condition and promote healthy tear production.

How Long Does Swimmer’s Eye Last?

Swimmer’s eye is typically a temporary annoyance. In most cases, symptoms like blurry vision and redness subside within a few hours, especially with proper after-swim care.  

However, if your symptoms persist for over a day or two, worsen, or you experience significant pain, light sensitivity, or pus discharge from your eyes, consult your eye doctor to rule out any underlying conditions. These could be signs of a more serious eye infection requiring medical attention.

Quick Relief: Immediate Actions Post-Swim

Taking immediate steps after swimming can help alleviate discomfort and reduce irritation:

Rinse

The most crucial step is to thoroughly rinse your eyes with clean, cool water for at least 30 seconds. This helps flush out chlorine and other chemicals trapped under your eyelids. Use a gentle stream of water directed at the inner corner of your eye, allowing it to flow outwards.

Cool Compress

Apply a cool compress (a washcloth soaked in cool water) to your closed eyelids for a few minutes to reduce inflammation and soothe burning.

Artificial Tears

Use lubricating eye drops to help replenish the tear film and alleviate dryness and irritation. Look for preservative-free artificial tears specifically formulated for sensitive eyes.

Avoid Rubbing

Rubbing your eyes can further irritate them. If your eyes itch, try blinking rapidly to encourage natural tear production.

Dealing with Chlorine Irritation: Clearing Cloudy Vision

Most cases of blurry vision caused by swimmer’s eye resolve on their own within a few hours. However, there are steps you can take to help clear cloudy vision:

Blink Frequently

Blinking helps spread tears evenly across the eye’s surface, improving focus and reducing blurriness.

Rest Your Eyes

Give your eyes time to recover from the irritation. Avoid straining your eyes by taking breaks from screens and using artificial lighting.

Avoid Contact Lenses

If you wear contact lenses, switch to glasses for a few days after experiencing the swimmer’s eye to allow your eyes to heal completely.  Discard any contact lenses worn while swimming, as they may harbor trapped chlorine and other chemicals.

Final Words

You can take a relaxing swim without worrying about hazy vision or eye irritation by using these guidelines and learning about the causes of the swimmer’s eye. Remember, prioritize eye safety and take steps to protect your eyes both before and after swimming. Happy swimming!

Join the conversation and share your firsthand experiences and insights in the comments section below the article, as we explore effective strategies for navigating eye irritation from swimming.

Interested in learning more about healthy swimming practices? Join our adult swim classes in West Hills, where we focus not only on improving your swimming skills but also on ensuring your swimming environment supports your eye health and overall wellbeing. Our expert instructors are here to guide you through every splash!

Guest article.

The above may not coincide with the methodology and opinion of the SwimRight Academy Team.

James Setton
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1stnpoollastout October 30, 2023

If you think you have lost your googles, good chance they are in your swim bag, keep checking, and kick.

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