Swimming goggles and glaucoma

Wearing some kinds of goggles may increase intraocular pressure
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  • Updated:11 Aug 2011

01.Swimming goggles and glaucoma

Do you swim regularly? If so, you may want to reconsider what sort of goggles you use.

Researchers in Western Australia found that goggles with a small rim diameter can cause transient increased fluid pressure in the eye, called intraocular pressure. For people with glaucoma, this can make the problem worse.

There’s also a suggestion that regular use of swimming goggles (several hours a week) could be a factor in causing glaucoma: the same researchers reported a case study of a 36-year old man with otherwise unexplained glaucoma who swam for four hours a week using small-rim goggles.

Ophthalmologist Dr William Morgan recommends the use of large rim diameter goggles: either the large mask-type ones, or traditional goggles with a rim area of greater than 1700 mm2 (eye pieces measuring 35 x 65mm or more). He has written to major goggle manufacturers about his findings and recommendations, with no response.

About glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases where the optic nerve is gradually destroyed, usually due to raised pressure inside the eye. It effects about 3% of people over 50, and family history, a thin cornea, diabetes, migraine, myopia, eye injury and high blood pressure are all risk factors. Playing wind instruments and past steroid use are also implicated.

Often it progresses so gradually you don’t notice anything is wrong until it’s too late and most of the nerve fibres are damaged, resulting in a loss of peripheral vision (so-called tunnel vision). Biennial visits to an optometrist after the age of 40 are recommended for screening.



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