Sunny and warm days are here. Summer means barbecues, sun, fun, and of course, swimming! With so many plans to swim in oceans, lakes, rivers and pools, it is essential to protect your eyes from the elements; you would not like an eye infection to ruin your day. That is why Davina’s Swim House team has compiled some tips to help you protect your eyes when swimming outdoors.
Use Sun Ray Protection
Without the proper protection, sun rays can be harmful to your eyes and skin. That is why it is very important to use the right defences against them. However, before learning how to guard ourselves against those unsafe sun rays, let’s learn a little bit more about them:
UVB & UVA
Of the various types of sun rays that reach our planet, the ultraviolet ones (UV) cause the most damage to our skin and eyes. There are two classes of UV rays, UVA and UVB. The first one penetrates deeper into the skin, it’s responsible for tanning and premature skin ageing, can have a role in skin cancer formation and is absorbed by the eye lens and retina. The second one affects the outer layers of the skin, producing sunburns and blistering, and has a greater role in skin cancer while also affecting the eye corneas (which can be damaged).
Fortunately, there is clothing, equipment and lotions designed to protect the skin and eyes from these damaging rays:
UV rays tend to bounce off surfaces, which can increase our exposure to them. Water, sand and pavement are especially reflective, and that is why wearing sunglasses is so important, regardless of age. Make sure the lenses have real UVA and UVB protection, and if possible, the design covers not only the front but also the sides of the eyes. Sunglasses are the eye-protection equivalent of sunscreen; you and your kids should always wear them while outside.
If your eyes can get damaged when outside of the water, imagine the amount of reflection there is when you are in the water. Ideally, you should wear UVA and UVB-protected goggles when swimming, especially outside. Our ally, Vorgee, offers different types of goggles for kids and adults, all equipped with UVA/UVB protection.
Besides protecting you from those harmful rays, goggles will also help prevent infections and irritation. Learn more about the different styles and types of goggles here.
Clothing & Sunscreen
If you are serious about protecting your skin from the sun, you must also consider clothing and sunscreen. Nowadays, swimwear and other outdoor apparel have solar protection materials. They will prevent UVA/UVB rays from entering the body while allowing you to sweat. And for those parts of your body that aren’t under the solar-protected material, there should always be a layer of good-quality sunscreen. Rain or shine, this element is a must in your daily routine.
However, it doesn’t matter how much protection you have, you should try to limit your time under the sun and stay hydrated. Remember, humans need exposure to sunlight; it is beneficial for our health; you just need to be careful when doing it.
Rinse Your Eyes
It doesn’t matter if you are swimming in a pool, a river, or the ocean, water will always have external elements (e.g. chemicals, bacteria, minerals) that could cause an infection or irritation. This is why it is recommended to rinse your eyes after your swim. Ideally, you should use artificial tears* or saline drops to help your eyes restore their pH levels and wash away irritating elements. If you don’t have drops, it’s okay, fresh water can also work; just be mindful that this water could also have some other chemicals or bacteria, that is why it should be a last resort.
Sometimes after a swim, vision can get a little blurry due to irritant elements in the water, but don’t worry, just go over the process of rinsing your eyes with fresh water to wash away the elements that are causing the irritation, don’t rub or scratch your eyes, and your vision should get back to normal.
*Ask your eye doctor which are the best drops for you.
Do Not Wear Contact Lenses
You should never swim while wearing contact lenses (including pools, hot tubs, lakes or oceans). Due to their material, it is very easy for chemicals, fungi or bacteria to attach to them while you are in the water. They will stay there even after you’re out, which can cause irritations or infections that could lead to severe corneal damage.
So, what if you need contact lenses to see? You could have prescriptions goggles made. They will work just like glasses or lenses, protect your eyes, and allow you to see.
Know Where You Swim
There is always a risk of eye infection when you swim. However, chances increase dramatically when you swim in bodies of water that are not constantly monitored, contaminated, or have an unknown water-quality status.
To avoid unnecessary risks, always swim in places you know are constantly checked and treated. If you are going someplace new, check the bacteria and contamination reports with the local authorities. Most cities have them and update them daily. For example, for people living in Toronto, here you can check the water quality of the city’s beaches.
Swimming is, without a doubt, one of the best activities to do during the Summer; just remember to take care of yourself, take care of others, and always be water safe. If you are interested in Swim Lessons, First Aid Courses, or Aquatic Leadership programs, contact the team at Davina’s Swim House, we will be happy to help you!