As a kid, I remember opening my eyes under water to try to see what I could see and how far I could see. Apparently, that's not a great idea.

"Chlorine is a powerful disinfectant and can, in fact, cause some damage to the outer layer cells that protect the cornea," says Dr. Muriel Schornack, a Mayo Clinic optometrist.

She says a peek under the waves now and then should be fine. But don't open your eyes for long because extended exposure could result in irritation, redness, blurriness, light sensitivity and pain. Most of the time, those symptoms are temporary.

If you really want to open your eyes underwater, Schornack says to wear goggles. She's a huge fan of them for two main reasons:

  • Swimming goggles help protect the surface of the eye.
  • If you wear contact lenses, chlorine may soak into them, causing prolonged exposure and potential damage to the surface of the eye.
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