Public pools are a part of life year-round in the UAE, and it's not uncommon to end a weekend of swimming with red, burning eyes.
The logical explanation for bloodshot eyes after spending time in the pool is that the chlorine caused some sort of irritation. In public pools especially, where chlorine levels are higher, this seems to make total sense. A new report from the US's Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says otherwise, though, and the results are pretty disgusting.
It's not chlorine that's making your eyes red, says Michael Hlavsa, who is the chief of the CDC's healthy swimming program. "When we go swimming and we complain that our eyes are red, it's because swimmers have peed in the water," he explained to TODAY. "The nitrogen in the urine combines with the chlorine and it forms what's known as chloramine and it's actually chloramine that causes the red eyes. It's chlorine mixed with poop and sweat and a lot of other things we bring into the water with us."
Further, while we typically assume that a strong smell of chlorine suggests a cleaner pool, it's actually the opposite: the stronger a pool's chlorine smell, the more filled with pee it is. "Healthy pools don't smell like chemicals," says Hlavsa.
In public pools, the best way to prevent the spread of germs is to make sure pH and disinfectant levels are properly maintained. And as pool goers, it's important to shower before entering the pool to get any sweat or dirt off your body.