Summer vacations are on! A jump into the swimming pool is one great way to beat the heat. Whether it’s a hotel’s pool or daily swimming class or the community pool in your society, swimming pool water can leave your kid with burning red eyes, also called as swimmer’s eyes. Here’s how you can protect your kids’ eyes in the swimming pool:
How Swimming Pool water can harm your kid’s eyes:
- Washed Tear Film:
Our eyes are always covered by a thin layer of tears, called the tear film. This helps keep the outer surface of our eye moist at all times. The chlorine and other chemicals that are added to swimming pool water for keeping the water clean can wash away this tear film. This can leave your kid with a condition called dry eyes. Kids with dry eyes may blink their eyes frequently or rub their eyes. They may shy away from light. Their eyes may seem red and they may be able to complain of a gritty feeling or ‘something going in my eye’.
- Pink Eye:
Some bacteria may survive the chlorine and can go on to cause an eye infection. The chlorine may also cause an allergic reaction to your kid’s eyes. This is called as a pink eye. You may notice your child complaining of itching, watering and redness.
- Chlorine Eye Allergy:
Some kids may be allergic to the chlorine itself. They may complain of itchiness, redness, watering of eyes and swelling of their eyelids. This may be more common in kids who are prone to seasonal eye allergies and those who open their eyes underwater.
How to protect your kid’s eyes in the swimming pool:
- Swimming Goggles:
Let your child pick out a pair of swimming goggles in his favourite colour. This will ensure that s/he is motivated to wear them at all times. This will help keep those chemicals and germs off your kid’s eyes. If your kid has glasses, you can get prescription swimming goggles made too.
- Washing Eyes:
Yes, we know kids just want to get on to their next game as soon as they are out of the pool. It is a big task to get them to shower with fresh water. Do insist on them washing their eyes with fresh water too. This will ensure that the chlorine and chemicals get washed off their eyelashes and eyelids too. This should be done by splashing their closed eyes with water. Otherwise, you will only be washing away whatever little is left of the tear film.
- Swimming Pool Hygiene:
Encourage your kid to follow basic pool hygiene. Take frequent loo breaks so that they don’t pee in the pool. Just like a bath later, encourage them to take a shower before they get into the pool too, so that the body oils, dirt, sweat and bacteria that are introduced into the pool are reduced.
- Staying Hydrated:
For your child’s eyes to be able to replenish that washed away tear film, it is very essential that their bodies have enough water. Make sure your child stays hydrated in the scorching heat. If your child is not too keen on drinking water, ensure hydration through buttermilk, fruit juices, watery fruits like watermelon.
- Never swim with contact lenses:
If your child is old enough to be wearing contact lenses, ensure that s/he always removes them before getting into the pool. Wearing contacts in pools is like inviting bacteria to have a close rendezvous with your kid’s eyes and then providing them with a permanent residency in between the space between the lens and eye. You can’t make it any easier for the bacteria!
- Visit your Child Eye Doctor:
If your child has redness, pain, excess watering, sensitivity to light, eye discharge or any of the above mentioned signs of dry eyes or pink eye or chlorine allergy, do visit your child eye doctor. Your pediatric ophthalmologist will prescribe the appropriate eye drops.
Dr. Prachi Agashe is a Pediatric Ophthalmologist in Mumbai. She also practices at Agashe Pediatric Super Speciality Care in Kurla. She can be reached at 02242435000 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via facebook at www.facebook.com/AgasheHospital