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Heatwave risk to eyesight: 4 Essential Tips for healthy eyes

One of the UK’s top eye surgeons has warned British holidaymakers to look after their eyes this weekend, highlighting the risks of heat and sun on people’s vision.

As Brits prepare to jet off this summer, a leading eye expert has warned travellers to make sure they protect their eyes in the sunny weather. With temperatures rising across Europe amidst an impending heatwave, the hotter weather could pose risks to eye health, even in the UK.

Ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause long-term damage to eyesight if not looked after properly. Brits preparing to spend their half term and summer holidays sunbathing and frolicking on beaches are being urged to follow these steps to avoid long-term damage.

Dr David Teenan, leading ophthalmologist and UK Medical Director at Optical Express, has provided these top tips to keep your eyes safe in the sun:

  • Wear quality sunglasses – Poor quality shades will fail to protect. Everyone knows not to look directly at the sun, but it is also really important to ensure your sunglasses fit properly, and offer the proper level of UV ray protection. Otherwise, you are at risk of suffering from Photokeratitis, which effectively means that your eyes are sunburnt.
  • Don’t swim with your contact lenses in - Holidaymakers have also been warned not to go swimming with contact lenses in, either in the pool or in the sea. This increases the risk of microbial or acanthamoeba keratitis – a serious type of infection which can lead to severe pain and blindness in the most severe cases.
  • Eat a healthy diet – We all like to enjoy ourselves on holiday and might not always eat as healthily as we do normally. Of course, the odd ice cream is fine but to help keep our eyes in good working order we need the vitamins and minerals we get from a healthy, varied diet. Fish that is high in omega 3 and green leafy vegetables are all great and will reduce our risk of conditions such as cataracts and age related macular degeneration.
  • Limit your alcohol and stay hydrated – Many of us enjoy a glass of wine on a summer’s evening, or a nice cold beer, but too much alcohol can damage our eyes and negatively impact our vision. It can affect our appearance, causing dark circles under our eyes or the whites of our eyes to turn yellow. Alcohol can affect how our eyes perform, slowing reaction time to light levels and reducing our ability to see different colour shades. While it’s great to enjoy a cocktail in the sun, drinking to excess can cause dehydration and lead to problems with your vision so it’s essential to drink plenty of water and limit our alcohol intake.

Dr Teenan commented: “The timing of the expected heatwave across Britain will be perfect for many of us, just in time for the bank holiday and the May half term for parents.

“However, it is incredibly important to ensure that if we are making the most of the warmer and sunnier weather during the bank holiday and beyond, we must protect our eyes as best we can. You shouldn’t risk damage to your eyes through lack of proper eye protection, lack of hydration or lack of care when swimming.”

Of course, whilst these tips will enable Brits to enjoy their time in the sun in a healthy manner during any potential heatwave, it is essential that eye health is considered all year round.