The Official Blog of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals

Many pool owners and swimmers laud the health benefits of the life aquatic, citing exercise, relaxation and time outdoors as some of the best perks. Unfortunately, many don’t understand some of the health risks of pool ownership. One of these - potential eye disease - is easily avoided with just a few precautions. 

Eye health is one of the most important reasons for maintaining proper pool conditions and water sanitation. What many people don’t realize is that a dirty pool can lead to many adverse health consequences, not the least of which is damage to the eyes through infection. So, be sure to take precautions to ensure you protect your eyes. 

While a pool that isn’t properly sanitized and chemically balanced can lead to any number of bacterial and toxic incursions into the human body, eye infection is one of the most squirm-inducing. Conjunctivitis, otherwise known as "pink eye," is the most common form of infection to the human eye, and can result directly from a poorly maintained pool. 

Fortunately, there’s a preventative measure that’s guaranteed to protect against conjunctivitis and many other bacterial or even viral infections: chlorine. Chlorine is a natural germ-killer, so maintaining enough parts per million (between 1 and 3 parts, specifically) in your pool’s water, along with proper pH balance, is the best defense against pool-borne illness. 

Maintaining chlorine levels and pH balance is therefore just as vital to the health of a pool owner as diet and exercise. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has specifically referred to chlorine and pH as the “first defense” against the germs that nature and other swimmers will undoubtedly carry into your pool. For every unshowered swimmer, bit of natural debris, or (heaven forbid) in-pool urinator that passes through your water, another chance of infection arises. Therefore, maintaining optimum chemical conditions isn’t just a matter of having clear and attractive water; it’s a matter of health.

Unfortunately, those with particularly sensitive eyes that are prone to allergic reaction may find that chlorine is a powerful irritant. In an ironic twist, allergic reaction to chlorine can actually, in some cases, indirectly lead to conjunctivitis. Therefore, it’s important that while chemical levels and pH balance are properly maintained, swimmers with sensitive eyes wear goggles when swimming. Anyone who feels irritated by pool chemicals should limit their time in the water, or consider switching to non-chlorine methods of sanitation such as mineral sanitation or bromine. 

Every pool owner should strive to keep the sanitary conditions of their pool in peak form, not only for the recreational implications, but for the sake of their health and the health of family, friends and other guests. As is the case with eye disease, you never know what’s lurking under the surface of a dirty pool, so keep it clean. You’ll be glad you did.

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