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Whether you’ve watched the Olympics on TV or you spend your summers at the local pool, you’ve probably seen swimmers wearing goggles. But what are they for? Do you need to wear them?

How do swimming goggles work?

Swimming goggles are two pieces of clear plastic with rubber or silicone rims held snugly to the head with a band of rubber. This forms a tight seal around the eyes, preventing water from coming into contact with them.

See clearly underwater

Goggles help us see clearly underwater by correcting the refraction of light. Normally, light passes through the cornea, which begins focusing the light. It is then focused on the lens and onto the retinas. The images are then transmitted up the optic nerve to the visual center of the brain.

Refraction of the light normally takes place when the light rays travel from the thinner air into the denser cornea. However, water has a similar density to the cornea, so light doesn’t refract properly. That’s why when you’re underwater, everything looks distorted or blurry.

Goggles, however, create a pocket of air around your eyes, which allows light to refract properly and help you see clearly.

Protect your eyes

Pools are full of chlorine and other chemicals designed to clean the water. If the pH balance in the pool is too high or too low, it can irritate your eyes. The chemicals can also wash away the tear film of the eye, which can cause discomfort. Also, swimming in the ocean can cause your eyes to sting because the high salt content can dehydrate your eyes.

However, the tight seal created by swimming goggles protects the eye from contact with the water, thus protecting them from any irritants. Additionally, public pools and fresh water can contain impurities or bacteria that swim goggles will prevent from reaching your eyes, CEENTA Eye Ancillary Services Manager Jay Russell said.

No contacts

As good as your goggles can be, it is still not recommended you swim while wearing contact lenses. Small amounts of water can still get in your goggles, which means bacteria can grow on the lenses. This can cause a corneal infection.

Get goggles from CEENTA

CEENTA offers goggles for both children and adults in prescription and nonprescription versions. That way, no matter what your vision needs, you’ll be able to see clearly while swimming safely.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. To find a CEENTA optical location near you, visit our Locations page.


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