Summer is here and the sun is very hot. We go to the beach, we swim in the sea and in the swimming pool. At home we turn on the air conditioning to cool ourselves. Does it affect the eyes?

The use of sunglasses

Intense sunlight contains a high level of UV rays, which affects the eyes. Exposure to this light may cause irritative conjunctivitis, resulting in red, watery eyes and discomfort. When exposure is greater, it may cause keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea with symptoms such as pain and even blurred vision.

Chronic exposure to sunlight over the years may cause degenerative eye pathologies such as pinguecula (small yellowish white patch of tissue in the conjunctiva) and pterygion (yellowish white tissue that invades the cornea).

The use of sunglasses with an adequate filter is the best method for preventing the aforementioned eye problems. Also, they improve visual quality and protect the eyes from other irritating environmental factors such as wind, sand and dust.

Precautions with water

In summer, we spend a lot of time in contact with water. Seawater, with its high salt concentration, and swimming pool water, which contains chlorine, may irritate the eyes. In swimming pools it is also easier to suffer contagion from germs, causing infectious conjunctivitis.

Eye irritation symptoms include red, watery eyes and discomfort. The symptoms of infectious conjunctivitis are more intense, accompanied by secretions, swollen eyelids and even blurred vision. In order to prevent these pathologies, the use of sunglasses or swim goggles are very useful.

They are recommended for adults and children over three years of age. If you already have red eyes and discomfort after a day spent swimming, wash your eyes with cold saline solution. If your symptoms get worse, consult your ophthalmologist.

If you are diagnosed with infectious conjunctivitis, it is not advisable to swim in the sea or swimming pool, as you could infect other swimmers.

Contact lenses

Contact lens users should, under no circumstances, wear them in swimming pools or the sea, as they are susceptible to suffering a very severe infection caused by a protozoa called acanthamoeba.

If this protozoa infects the eye, it causes a painful ulcer in the cornea that can seriously and permanently impair vision.

Fans and environmental conditions

The eye surface has a film of tears that keeps it lubricated. Fans and air conditioning, particularly if directly fixed, increase tear evaporation and may dry the eye surface; this occurs especially in people already suffering from dry eye syndrome or poor tear quality.

Dry eyes can also be aggravated in low-moisture or windy ambient conditions. Symptoms include discomfort, foreign body sensation, stinging, and itching with or without red eyes.

The frequent use of artificial tears is of great help. If you already use them but your symptoms, do not improve or you have dry eye syndrome and it gets worse, consult your ophthalmologist.