It’s vacation time at last! Sea, sand, camping, outdoors, and travel are all summertime faves. But there’s nothing more annoying than having to deal with a health problem when far from home and all you want to do is relax and enjoy yourself.
Luckily, Dr. Anabelle Leclerc, optometrist and owner of the Opto-Réseau Vision Line Barnabé clinic in Rosemont, has some handy tips to avoid any eye problems this summer and during your vacation.
Tip No. 1: Wear sunglasses wherever you go
Whatever you do outside, Dr. Leclerc’s first recommendation is make sure everyone in the family has a good pair of sunglasses (UV400 protection). There’s a range of styles to choose from to find the perfect pair. Different coatings and tints are also available to provide proper protection for your eyes and improve your vision depending on the environment (open water, beach, forest, golf course, etc.). And since children’s visual systems are not fully developed, the sun has a much greater effect on their eyes than it does on adults. So don’t forget to give them sunglasses and make sure they wear them!
Tip No. 2: Be careful when swimming
“Swimming in a pool or the sea can dry out your eyes. So, it’s always a good idea to wear goggles when swimming. Plus you can even get swimming goggles adjusted to your prescription,” Dr. Leclerc says. If you have red or burning eyes when getting out of the pool, artificial tears (ideally without preservatives) can help provide relief. If the redness persists, consult an optometrist for treatment tailored specific your needs.
Wearing contact lenses when in contact with water is not recommended. If you must wear them, our collaborating optometrist recommends using disposable contact lenses that can be removed and thrown away after your day in the water.
Tip No. 3: Don’t leave without a spare
“I advise all my patients travelling abroad to take an extra pair of glasses with them. If you happen to lose or break your glasses, donning your old outdated pair is better than seeing nothing!” Dr. Leclerc says.
If you wear contact lenses and your camping or travelling conditions make it difficult to clean your hands or properly store your lenses, our collaborator recommends using disposable single-use contact lenses during your vacation. She says it’s okay to wear different types of contact lenses throughout the year, as long as they have been properly adjusted to your eyes by your optometrist. Disposable contact lenses actually help you avoid the risk of infection, require little maintenance, and are easier to carry and eco-friendly.
Recycling contact lenses
Despite the fact that they’re meant to be changed daily, disposable contact lenses can be eco-friendly if used correctly. First, if you carefully separate the packaging (plastic container and metal paper) before it goes in the recycling, it can be 100% recycled. Next, if you rip up contact lenses before throwing them in the rubbish (and not in the toilet or sink), they will break down faster in the landfill.
Tip No. 4: Protect your eyes when getting dirty
If you decide to get down and dusty during your vacation (e.g., to rebuild the deck or renovate the kitchen), be sure to wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from unwanted objects. “If you get an object or product in your eyes, rinse them immediately with plenty of water and call your optometrist for a consultation as soon as possible. In the event of a serious accident, go the Emergency Room,” our collaborator advises.
Tip No. 5: Limit screen time.
Rainy days (hopefully few and far between during your vacation) often mean time spent in front of screens. Dr. Leclerc says it is important to vary activities during the day to limit time spent in front of the television, computer, or smartphone, especially when children are concerned. In fact, the blue light from these devices is harmful to the eye. The Canadian Association of Optometrists has published recommendations concerning screen time for children:
- 0 to 2 years: no screen
- 2 to 5 years: one hour maximum a day
- 5 to 18 years: less than two hours a day
“If bad weather keeps you stuck inside, take a break from the screen every 30 to 60 minutes and take the opportunity to move a little! You should also turn off your screens an hour before going to bed,” Dr. Leclerc says.
With these recommendations in mind, our best advice is to make the most of your summer!
Thanks to optometrist Dr. Anabelle Leclerc, optometrist at Opto-Réseau Vision Line Barnabé clinic in Rosemont for her invaluable contribution to this article.