With the arrival of summer, our children will spend much more time outdoors, enjoying pools and beaches. On one hand, it is a good time to reduce screen time and enjoy the good weather and outdoor activities, which is beneficial for their proper eye development and to prevent the onset or progression of myopia. On the other hand, sun exposure and external agents can cause eye irritations or even injuries of the ocular surface. Therefore, it is important to follow a set of preventive guidelines.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a common cause of ocular surface irritation in children, leading to symptoms such as hyperemia, conjunctivitis, inflammation of the cornea (keratitis), and long-term conjunctival degeneration known as pinguecula. To prevent these issues, it is crucial to wear sunglasses that bear the CE mark, indicating their certification. These sunglasses are categorized on a scale from 0 to 4 based on their level of protection, with a minimum rating of 3 recommended for children to ensure comprehensive shielding. For patients who require corrective lenses, we recommend using prescription sunglasses. Furthermore, wearing sunglasses at the beach provides additional protection against the intrusion of wind and sand particles into the eyes.
Swimming in pools
We recommend using swimming goggles to prevent secondary irritations caused by chlorine.
Contact lens wearers
It is prohibited to wear contact lenses in pools, fresh water (rivers, lakes), or saltwater (sea) due to the risk of infectious keratitis, which in some cases can lead to severe corneal abscesses.
It is a common cause of dry eyes, so we advise frequent use of artificial tears to hydrate the cornea and prevent irritations and dry eye-related keratitis. Artificial tears can also be instilled after sun exposure or contact with pool chlorine.
By following these simple tips, you can enjoy the summer without risks to your eye health.
Dr. Anna Monés, ophthalmologist at the Barraquer Ophthalmology Centre