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The Effects of Swimming With Open Eyes

author image Nina K.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by,, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.
The Effects of Swimming With Open Eyes
A young boy is swimming underwater with his eyes open. Photo Credit: Hoby Finn/Digital Vision/Getty Images

If you've ever opened your eyes underwater in the pool, you're probably aware of the stinging and burning it can cause. While these effects are typically not dangerous, they can take some of the enjoyment out of your swim. To help prevent irritating your peepers, invest in a quality pair of goggles before your next swimming session.

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Swimming and Your Eyes

Even if you can see clearly while swimming, you may feel the effects on your eyes within a few minutes. In pool water, you may experience temporary eye irritation and blurry vision because the added chlorine strips the protective tear layer from your cornea. In lakes or rivers, your vision may be clouded by dirt and other particles in the water. While it may not be possible to completely avoid these effects without goggles, closing your eyes reduces exposure to irritants in the water.

Special Circumstances

If you wear contact lenses, swimming without goggles may change the lenses' shape, affecting the fit. In addition, bacteria in non-chlorinated water may cause infections whether eyes are open or closed. One study published in the journal "Optometry and Vision Science" in 2011 studied lens wearers who swam in ocean water. They found that those who wore goggles accumulated less bacteria on their contacts than those who did not, indicating that wearing goggles may help prevent bacterial eye infections.

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