Protecting your eyes while swimming this summer

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Protecting your eyes while swimming this summer - Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm on Augut 1, 2018.

Spending time in the water during the summertime is the best way to keep cool.

But whether it's splashing around in the pool or taking a dip in the ocean, doctor's say it's important to protect your eyes from whatever may be lurking in the water.

Everyone enjoys the water in summer, whether it's a child's spray park, the neighborhood pool, or the Jersey shore. But doctors say we need to take extra care of our eyes around water.

Optometrist Brian Cohen says he constantly hears 2 questions during the summer: Why do my eyes get red when I swim? And can I wear my contact lenses in the water?

It's a definite no to wearing contacts while swimming. Contacts absorb the micro-organisms in water, even from a well-chlorinated pool.

"That piece of plastic on your eye acts as an incubator where these micro-organisms can," said Dr. Cohen.

For anyone who needs good vision in the water, like the Lower Makefield Swim Team, he recommends prescription goggles.

If you insist on contact lenses, use daily disposable contacts, but throw them away right after swimming.

As for what makes eyes red, it's not the chlorine.

"It's actually bodily toxins. Ammonia, specifically comes off your body. Comes from urine, sweat, deodorants that you wear," said Dr. Cohen.

For minor redness, use drops.

"You want to use a lubricating drop, a moisture drop, artificial tears. What you don't want to use are redness relief drops, believe it or not," said Dr. Cohen.

He says those can slow healing from the irritation because they tighten blood vessels in the eye.

Experts say salt water - in pools or at the beach - isn't likely to cause infection. But take those artificial tears to the beach in case you get sand in your eyes. You don't want to rub or touch your eyes because the sand can scratch the eye surface, but the drops can help flush the sand out.

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