Can chlorine hurt your eyes? As many swimmers have discovered, the answer is yes. When it comes to swimming pools, it pays to stay safe and hygienic. That means the water needs to be treated properly to eliminate germs and grime. Usually, this is a job for chlorine.

How Does Chlorine Work?

Over the years, we’ve discussed the importance of a well-maintained swimming pool. Whether you are swimming in your own pool or a public community pool, it is critical to balance the pH levels and alkalinity of the water. In a nutshell, chlorine works to remove slime, algae and other potential hazards from the pool. When properly balanced, chlorine can keep your pool or hot tub crystal clear.

Of course, if you use too much, that’s when the trouble can start…

Simpsons Chlorine

Can Chlorine Hurt Your Eyes?

So, can chlorine hurt your eyes? Absolutely, but only if you’re overexposed to too much of this chemical. As you’ve seen in that Simpsons gif above, many of us are familiar with the burning sensation of a chlorine-loaded pool. It’s common enough to become a well-known joke.

It’s possible for chlorine to hurt your eyes by drying them out. You see, our eyes are covered with a thin layer of tears, often called tear film. This film helps to moisten and protect our sensitive eyes. While swimming, chlorine can affect our eyesight by dissipating this protective barrier, leaving our eyes exposed.

For this reason, swimmers often develop dry or red eyes and blurry vision. As you can probably imagine, this can be both irritating and uncomfortable. Additionally, too much chlorine can lower your protection from water-born infections. One of the most common is conjunctivitis, or “pink eye.”

Avoiding Eye Pain in the Pool

Don’t let chlorine hurt your eyes. Now that we know some of the ways it can affect you, let’s talk about protection.

Balance Your Chlorine Levels

First and foremost, be sure to properly balance the chemicals in your pool. Most pools should have about four ppm of chlorine. This can be easily measured with pool water test strips. Typically, these strips evaluate chlorine, pH and acidity levels in your pool water.

Dangers of Chlorine and Asthma

Limit Your Time in the Water

One of the best ways to avoid letting chlorine hurt your eyes is to step out of the pool. It’s that easy. Take breaks from time to time to give your eyes a rest.

Wear a Pair of Goggles 

The next logical step is to physically protect your eyes in the water. That means goggles or scuba masks. These items will protect your eyes from exposure to the harsh chemicals.

Rinse Off and Use Eye Drops

Next, when you leave the water, don’t forget to rinse off. A shower before you swim is just proper hygiene, but it’s also important to rinse after you swim. You don’t want those pool chemicals to linger on your skin and in your eyes. Gently rinse your eyes. If you feel dryness or redness in your eyes, use some over-the-counter eye drops to help moisten and soothe your tender peepers.

Switching to Salt

Finally, there is a gentler alternative that some pool owners may want to consider. Many pools today use saltwater filtration instead of chlorine. Contrary to what the name implies, this option does not refer to just cleansing your pool with salt.


The amount of chemicals used is significantly less than a traditional chlorinated pool. In addition to allowing you to avoid excess amounts of chlorine, it also smells far less harsh. This is a great alternative for people who would rather smell like they just came back from a trip to the beach!