Protecting Your Eyes When on Holiday
It’s no secret how important your eyesight is. What’s less glaringly obvious is how vulnerable your eyes are to the elements. While you’re advised to practice good eye care all year round, it is when you’re on holiday that your eyes can be most susceptible to damage as a result of extreme climates and sunshine, amongst other factors.
Why you need to protect your eyes
Plain and simple, you need to take care of your eyes to ensure they remain healthy and fully functional throughout your life. While this involves paying your eye optician regular visits for eyesight tests, it also means taking necessary measures towards defending your eyes against hazards and foreign agents. This can include the sun and extreme climates, but things such as bacteria, viruses and rogue particles too which can be the source of infection that can cause numerous symptoms.
How to protect your eyes
While many of us will head somewhere hot and enjoy the pleasures of a warmer climate, it is in such weather that your eyes can be at risk.
Similarly, at the other end of the spectrum, winter skiing holidays can also throw up numerous hazards for your eyes. Either way, it’s best to be well informed to make sure that you offer yourself the best possible protection.
Protection from the sun and glare
Long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, can lead to various types of damage. Macular degeneration can occur as a result of over-exposure to UV light. This is where spots known as drusen – believed to consist of deposits of deteriorating tissue - build up in the macular, which is the part of the retina responsible for central vision. This can result in blind spots within a persons’ direct line of sight. Cataracts are also linked to exposure to sunlight, so too are serious flash burns to the cornea.
Sunglasses are essential when in a hot and sunny climate, but not any pair of sunglasses will do. When looking for a pair of sunglasses, make sure you choose a pair that includes either the CE Mark and British Standard (BS EN ISO 12312-1:2013), a UV 400 label or a statement that the sunglasses offer 100% UV protection1. Also, consider the sides of your eyes and try to look for sunglasses with wide or wrap around arms.
Those looking to hit the ski slopes also need to be cautious, as the reflective properties of snow mean UV rays can be a problem on the ski slopes2. It is advised that skiers wear goggles as opposed to sunglasses, as they offer more all-round protection against rays that may bounce off the snow.
Protection from heat and wind
Hot and / or windy climates can also be a cause of dry eyes, which occur due to reduced tear production, or evaporation of tears too quickly. Dry eye symptoms include red eyes, irritated eyes, watery eyes, soreness and temporary blurry vision.
Dry eyes can be treated through the application of lubricating eye drops, also known as artificial tears. Specifically designed eye spray is also available and can provide effective relief for dry, irritated eyes. Application is easy as it can literally be done with your eyes closed. If you are a contact lens wearer, you are advised to reduce the amount of time spent wearing them in hot climates, as lenses may reduce moisture from the eye.
Protection from sand, dust and debris
If there’s one thing a beach has in abundance, it’s sand. A lot of people enjoy sandy beaches, but the eye certainly doesn’t. Naturally, spending time on holiday on a breezy beach increases the risk of sand and rogue elements, such as dust, penetrating the eye. Similarly, the windy climates you’ll face on the ski slopes are likely to throw up debris, such as bark, dirt or ice, especially if you’re skiing behind someone.
Eye exposure to any of these can result in irritant conjunctivitis, whereby contact with the conjunctiva by a foreign agent can cause inflammation, making the eye red and irritable. Eye wash is a good idea for these circumstances as it offers a sterile solution that can flush out the offending particles, whilst sunglasses also offer protection. For skiers, goggles offer more substantial protection.
Protection in cold climates
Cold weather can also be responsible for the symptoms of dry eye. In which case you are advised to follow the same measures that you would in warm weather, while ski goggles again provide effective protection.
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