We travel to see the sights, yet when we do, most of us give little thought to taking care of our eyes. Sun, snow, swimming, dry airplane air – and even all those extra Instagram photos you’re posting – can make your eyes tired, or possibly do damage.
The sun is the biggest threat to your eye health.
“May people underestimate how much the sun’s ultraviolet rays can pose a significant risk, not just to your skin but also to your vision,” said Dr. Samuel D. Pierce, president of the American Optometric Association.
The greatest risk is from 8-10 a.m. and 2-4 p.m., when the sun is closest to the Earth. Pierce points out that water at the beach and snow on the slopes also reflect the sun’s rays, increasing your exposure.
Protect your peepers with wrap-around sunglasses – prescription if you wear corrective lenses – with UV-A and UV-B protection, and top that off with a hat or visor.
Contact lens wearers should bring several sets of lenses, an extra storage case, plenty of cleaning solution and a backup set of glasses. Carry spare lenses with you when you’re out and about, in case you lose one.
“You don’t want to lose part of your day because you left your spare lenses back in the hotel room,” Pierce said.
Contact lens wearers should also take care around pools, hot tubs, at water parks and at the beach. Getting water in your eyes while your lenses are in could put you at risk of infection, so take your lenses out if you plan to get wet.
Dry eyes can be a problem for all travelers – either due to the climate control inside airplanes, or to changes in climate and weather. Pierce recommends over-the-counter lubricating eye drops to help keep the eyes healthy and moist.
During travel many of us take more selfies, post more photos and otherwise use our digital devices more than usual. And Pierce says the high-energy light from these devices, called “blue light,” can pose eye problems.
Overexposure to blue light can cause digital eye strain leading to headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, neck and shoulder pain and eye irritation,” he said.
To ward off these symptoms, take a 20-second digital break every 20 minutes, and look at something 20 feet away.
Healthier eyes will make seeing the sights more fun.
Read more articles about travel-related health topics. AAA.com/LiveWell