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Should I Open My Eyes Underwater?

It is no secret that many people enjoy a nice swim on a warm summer day. Swimming is a fun way to keep cool and engage in much-needed exercise. It helps relieve stress and also helps improve muscle movement and coordination. No wonder it is one of the most enticing exercises for many individuals.

Swimming enthusiasts love being free in the water, whether scuba diving or just having a casual swim to cool off. However, you might be wondering if it is safe to open your eyes underwater.

If you get into the pool or ocean, you always want to know where you swim and understand your surroundings. No one wants to swim into a rock or get bitten by a crab. Nevertheless, it is not a good idea to have your eyes open underwater without having some protection.

Are There Any Effects of Opening Eyes Underwater?

The short answer is yes. Opening your eyes underwater can affect your eyes and vision. Whether you want to take a deep dive in the pool or the ocean, there are a lot of contaminants in the water that can cause eye problems for you or your kids.

Eye doctors always recommend keeping your eyes closed as much as possible while swimming. If not, you can always get yourself a pair of swimming goggles.

Though some effects can be temporary and easy to manage, others can cause considerable harm to your eyes and overall health. Let us look at some of the impacts of opening your eyes underwater.


A stinging sensation is one of the most common affects you might notice after opening your eyes in the ocean or pool. The sensation may often cause irritation and discomfort to your eyes.

Eye irritation is caused by chemicals found in pools or oceans. They pull out water from your eyes, causing that stinging sensation. The good news is that the irritation is often temporary and will go away in a few minutes after getting out of the pool.


Secondly, you might also notice that your eye gets red after enjoying your swim. Eye redness is likely caused by debris, chemicals, or other contaminants getting into your eye.

The redness is often only temporary and will go away after a while. However, if the redness is caused by an infection or sustaining damage to the eye, you need to contact your optometrist as soon as possible.

Blurred Vision

Another effect of opening your eyes underwater is blurred vision. You might notice that objects in the water appear out of focus. Likewise, they might also appear larger and closer than they are.

The refraction of light causes this blurred effect. Before the light gets into your eye, it is refracted by the water. As this refracted light gets to your eye, images look distorted and out of focus.


Fourthly, opening your eyes underwater can also increase your chances of developing an eye infection.

Water can be the perfect breeding ground for many germs and bacteria. These bacteria can find their way into the eye and cause eye issues. In addition, irritated eyes and any damage to your cornea increases the chances of bacteria infecting your eyes.

Infections can cause eye irritation, redness, swelling, inflammation, and severe pain. If the infection spreads and is not treated quickly, it might lead to blindness. Contact your eye doctor if you have any of the symptoms mentioned.

Injury To Your Eye

Lastly, chemicals and debris in the water can also cause injury to your eye.

Some chemicals that are found in swimming pools and oceans are pretty corrosive. When they get into the eye, they might end up wearing out and killing cells in your cornea.

Furthermore, debris like sticks or particles can get into your eye as you swim. The debris might end up scratching and damaging your eye.

Opening Eyes Underwater in The Pool Vs. Ocean

You might think that it is okay opening your eyes in a pool rather than in the ocean. However, this is not true. Pools also have some potential dangers if you are not too careful.

Swimming In Pools

One of the great things about pools is that they are disinfected, making them a favorite spot for most swimmers. However, these disinfectants have a profound effect on your eyes.

Chemicals such as chlorine and bromine are often used to get rid of bacteria in the water. And though the chemicals are diluted, they still can cause redness and irritation to your eyes.

Disinfectants may also damage your eye. These chemicals are very potent and might end up, over time, eroding cells in your eye.

Likewise, the disinfectants do not kill all the bacteria in the water. There is a probability of getting an infection if you open your eyes underwater.

Swimming In the Ocean

Anyone who likes deep-diving knows the nasty sting of saltwater getting into the eye. Though saline water is often a good treatment for eye infections, it also causes increased irritation and redness to your eyes.

In addition, there are a lot of water-borne bacteria, germs, and algae that are found in the ocean. Swimming in the ocean with your eyes open also increases your chances of infection.

Oceans also have a lot of debris that can cause injury to your eye. If sand particles or sticks poke your eye, it can cause eye irritation and injury or, in the worst cases, lead to blindness.

How To Swim with Eyes Open Safely

As we saw early, swimming with your eyes open is never recommended, without any protection. Getting some swimming goggles will help prevent eye irritation and redness. In addition, it will also stop water and any other contaminants from getting into your eye.

However, if you need to open your eyes, it is recommended to open them gradually and for a short time. Likewise, try opening one eye at a time until you get used to the feeling.

In A Nutshell

You should always rinse out your eyes after a nice swim in the pool or ocean. This helps clear out any salt, disinfectant, or bacteria that might have found their way into your eyes.

If you develop complications or your eye irritation persists, contact your optometrist immediately.

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