Have you ever heard of “swimmer’s eye”? If you’ve not heard of the term, then it’s still very likely that you’ve experienced the pain, redness and itching that comes with summer swimming. Eye irritation is common, especially during the belting hot summer months where we just want to spend every waking moment in our cool, refreshing swimming pool.

So, in the interests of keeping your eyes fresh and beautiful for all those upcoming parties, let’s dive in and discover the best ways to avoid eye irritation when swimming.

Don’t Forget Your Film

Our eyes are incredibly sensitive and need all the protection that they can get. The eye itself is coated with a highly specialised tear film which keeps it moist and acts as a barrier against the chemicals and bacteria in the water.

Tears are made up of three layers: the oily layer on the outside, the watery layer in the middle, and the inner, mucus layer. The three layers together are known as the tear film.” (Source)

Time spent underwater tends to erode this tear film which not only results in dry eyes but also allows the swimming pool chemicals access to our unprotected eyes. Redness, irritation and infection can develop quickly.

How to Prevent Eye Irritation When Swimming

  • A few eye drops or some saline solution before swimming will help to keep your eye lubricated and maintain a healthy liquid balance in the eye. Great prep for the tear film!
  • The most logical way of keeping the pool chemicals and other contaminants away from your eyes is to wear goggles. A well-fitting pair of goggles will go far in keeping irritants out of the eye area, even if you’re just splashing about and not doing laps in an Olympic pool.
  • Rinse your eyes after swimming. As soon as you’re done in the pool, rinse your eye area with fresh clean water which will get rid of any residual chemicals on the eyelid or lashes.
  • Don’t swim with contacts if you can help it. Bacteria sits beneath the lens which can result in corneal infections.
  • Don’t swim in dirty water. A pool with a strong chemical smell hasn’t necessarily just been treated with chlorine. WikiHow says, “Many people mistakenly think that’s the smell of chlorine, but chlorine doesn’t have a smell. That strong ammonia smell is actually the smell of chloramines, which form when chlorine binds with sweat, sunscreen, urine, saliva, and other substances swimmers bring into the water. A pool with a strong smell is one that hasn’t been properly treated with chlorine and other chemicals to remove all of the chloramines.”


Avoiding eye irritation while enjoying your summer swim means hours of happy family time and no red, itchy eyes afterwards. Enjoy!