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Along with the holidays come hot, sunny days. In summer we also tend to expose our eyes to a large number of risks such as the sun's harmful rays, contact with water and the practice of some sports that require adequate eye protection.
In Sports and eye protection in summer #7, the last episode of our podcast ‘Descansa la vista’, we speak with Dr. Andrés Picó, an ophthalmologist at the Barraquer Ophthalmology Centre, who offers guidelines in this regard.
The most suitable sunglasses
The first step to protect our eyes in summer is to choose sunglasses. This choice is usually guided by aesthetic reasons, but the following parameters must be taken into account to make the most appropriate decision:
- Ultraviolet protection filter. We have to make sure that the glasses we buy have the UV 400 logo, which is usually indicated on a sticker. With this we will be protected from the harmful rays of the sun.
- Visible light transmission: on the other hand, sunglasses are classified into 5 categories according to the percentage of light that reaches our eyes, category 0 being the clearest sunglasses (ideal for going around town or driving) and the 5 the darkest and the one that absorbs the most light (indicated for the sea and high mountains). We will choose the most appropriate category for the type of activity that we are going to carry out with the sunglasses.
- Colour of the lens: it does not have much effect protection, but it does change the perception of the colours of the environment. For example, grey or green have little colour shifting and are well suited for driving. Instead, it is advisable to reserve brown for very clear days or water sports, such as skiing or mountaineering. On the contrary, yellow and orange greatly increase contrast, so it is recommended to reserve them for very cloudy or foggy days.
Glasses for sports
It is very important to use specific glasses to practice different sports. These must be flexible, made of an anti-impact material and fit completely to the face. It is worth its use in any sports activity, whatever its characteristics:
- During the day: it is advisable to wear sunglasses that protect you from ultraviolet rays. In addition, sun glasses can be polarized, which reduce reflections and mirages, being very useful in road or sea sports.
- Racket sports such as tennis, paddle tennis or squash: in these cases, the size of the ball matches the size of our eye socket, so a ball hit in the area can cause serious injuries. Even if your practice is indoors or at night and does not require sun protection, it is worth using a specific and transparent goggle, since many of the eye injuries are caused by these sports and thus we will protect ourselves in case of impact.
- Movement sports such as running, trail running, cycling or skating; during the day it is advisable to protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays and if we do them at night, it is also convenient to use glasses as a barrier method. In addition, the air on the face tends to dry out the ocular surface, so eye protection becomes more important to prevent foreign bodies from entering the eyes.
Proper use of contact lenses
The use of contact lenses, for aesthetic and comfort reasons, tends to increase in summer. But its users must maintain good hygiene, use and maintenance guidelines so as not to put their health at risk:
- Do not bathe with your contact lenses on, neither on the beach, nor in the pool, nor in the bathroom at home. The contact lens is made of a porous material that dries out the eye, reducing its natural defense mechanism and facilitating the absorption of any of the many bacteria and microorganisms present in the water (which is why chlorine is added to swimming pools). The contact of the lens with water, even if it is drinkable, can be a source of infection with a fatal outcome for visual health.
- Avoid contact lenses if you go to the beach even if you don't bathe with them, because the breeze dries out the ocular surface and if sand or any foreign body also enters the eye, it may be more difficult to expel it. But if you are one of those who cannot avoid wearing contact lenses on the beach, specialists recommend that, at least, they be disposable.
- Use swimming goggles to protect your eyes during the bath and remember that there is also the possibility of graduating them. When you get out of the water, you can combine them with sunglasses that are also graduated.
- Apply artificial tears if you feel your eyes are drying out. These drops are to the eyes what moisturizing cream is to the hands, they are sold at any pharmacy and can be applied on demand to lubricate the ocular surface when we notice dryness, something that happens a lot with air conditioners or chlorine in swimming pools.
- Always carry a replacement contact lens with you and enough maintenance solution if you go on vacation. It is also essential to keep the box where we keep them clean to avoid infections.
- Never sleep with your lenses on or exceed the recommended wearing time, as you can cause an eye injury.
Listen to the podcast episode to find out all the tips.