PROTECT YOUR PEEPERS THIS SUMMER
Sun, sand and sea is a winning combination during the summer months but can be a challenge for our precious, sensitive eyes. From parasites in water to drying air-con, local eye hospital group Optegra (www.optegra.com) has all the advice you need to stay safe.
Optegra Medical Director and Ophthalmic Surgeon, Mr Amir Hamid, says: “Our eyes work hard all year round, but they have a particularly tough time in the summer, dealing with bright sunshine that can cause UV burns and uncomfortable dryness due to hot, sleepless nights. But with a little knowledge and care, it’s easy to take care of our eyes.”
So what actions can we take to help protect our precious peepers, both at home and away? Mr Hamid suggests:
• Despite long vacation days, only wear contact lenses 8-10 hours a day as your eyes need time without them for the surface of the eye to get the nutrition it needs from tears. If you over-wear them, blood vessels can grow at the front of the eye which cause reduction in vision.
• Remember to take your contact lenses out before swimming and go without if you can. There is a parasite called acanthamoeba present in pools, the sea and hot tubs which can cause an infection on the clear part of the eye, the cornea. Contact lenses are the perfect incubation medium. Wear prescription goggles. Every summer people come back from holidays with this infection, but if can result in loss of sight, so get medical attention quickly.
• Soothe dry, uncomfortable eyes with hydrating over-the-counter drops, which act as a lubricant. If the pollen count is particularly high, you should consider closing the doors and windows at home.
• Sleep well! Ideally you need 8 hours for your eyes to regenerate from the wear and tear of daily use, so we need that rest to reset everything for the next day. The ideal temperature for a bedroom is 18.5C, so do your best to cool it down. Open a window and the door to the room, and invest in a good fan. Swapping synthetic pyjamas for breathable cotton, and a heavy duvet for a single sheet can help too.
• Wear suitable sunglasses with proper UV protection to avoid thermal burn. Prolonged exposure to UV light can cause changes to the lens and back of the eye, so UV protection is as important for your eyes as it is for your skin. When choosing a pair of sunglasses, look for a label saying ‘100% UV protection’, ‘UV400’ or similar. It’s worth spending a little more on them for the sake of your eyes.
• Clean sandy eyes with a sterile solution – take a small bottle on holiday with you inside your regular first aid kit. Sand can easily blow into your eyes whilst on the beach and it can scratch the surface with the potential for infection, so it’s important to deal with it quickly. Avoid using salt water or tap water to rinse eyes as this could make it worse.
Most people are aware of the damage that UV radiation can cause to the skin. However, over- exposure to UV radiation is one of the risk factors associated with eye conditions such as cataract, corneal problems and even macular degeneration. So it’s really important to protect your eyes too.
Off on holiday? Optegra’s packing checklist will help to make sure your eyes are safe too!
• Good quality UV 400 sunglasses
• Wide brimmed sun hat
• Sterile eye solution to bathe sandy eyes
• Eye drops to combat dry conditions on the plane or in air-con
• Light cotton pyjamas to aid sleep
• Prescription goggles
• Portable fan to stay cool