AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

As you plan your next getaway, you may be thinking about how to save space in your suitcase and hand-luggage. Naturally, sunglasses will be a necessity for reading your favourite book on the beach but what about your prescription glasses? Many people choose to only pack a set of contact lenses for convenience and style during the summer break. However, a top consultant ophthalmologist warns that wearing contact lenses on holiday could cause serious damage to your eyes.

Contact Lenses Contact Lenses On Holiday Could Infect Your Eyes, Warns Top Ophthalmologist

According to Parwez Hossain from Southampton General Hospital, eye patients in the emergency department in the hospital almost never fail to increase in the summer months from the beginning of August through to mid-September. Around 1,200 new cases of eye infected resulting from contact lens use arise every year in the UK, with the numbers increasing by 15% at Southampton General Hospital during the two busy summer months. The increase in attendance is often as a result of eye infections from people failing to conduct proper hygiene precautions on holiday. This is particularly true of people who have recently visited hot countries.

In a hot country, particularly beach resorts, our eyes are likely to come into contact with more dry heat, sand and salt water. These factors, combined with a failure to properly clean contact lenses leads to an increased risk of developing eye infections. When contact lenses are not cleaned properly or are stored in warm, moist conditions, they are susceptible to exposure to micro-organisms called pseudomonas or acanthamoeba which infect the delicate surface of the eyes.

The most important consideration for anyone planning to take contact lenses abroad is how to ensure they remain clean and safe during the journey; stay at the resort; and any days out or excursions. Whilst it may be acceptable to leave lenses in lens solution at home, the hot climate abroad may leave the lens solution vulnerable to drying out or weakening its power to disinfect lenses. If you are leaving lenses in lens solution, ensure they are stored in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight.

Be particularly careful when washing lenses. Using water abroad to clean lenses can be risky because the hot temperatures allow bacteria to spread more quickly and swimming pool water can harm the delicate contact lens condition. Instead, always pack a bottle of lens cleaning solution and store it somewhere cool, perhaps the hotel room safety deposit box.

As with any holiday abroad, it’s wise to consider how the environment will affect your lenses. For example, if your destination is particularly dusty or sandy (e.g. North Africa, Middle East), your lenses will be particularly vulnerable to grit and debris. If sand or grit is trapped behind the lenses, it can cause serious irritation and lead to more serious eye problems such as scratches or ulcers. If you are concerned about your eyes or experience any irritation, seek medical advice from your local health centre but remember to ask for notes of all treatment received to ensure your ophthalmologist at home can continue any treatment necessary.

If you are unsure about how your contact lenses will cope abroad, be sure to take a pair of prescription glasses or tinted prescription sunglasses to keep your eyes safe and your vision clear when on holiday this year.

Victoria keeps up-to-date with the latest eye medical news for a glasses retailer, DirectSight.
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