The summer can take its toll on our eyes, whether it comes in the form of hay fever, chlorine in swimming pools or simply increased exposure to sunlight.

Here are some tips of enjoying the summer safely:

Eye protection

Sunlight can increase the long-term risk of developing conditions such as cataracts. Make sure you – and your children – protect your eyes with good-quality sunglasses.

Hay fever

Hay fever sufferers  endure symptoms including itchy eyes and nose, sneezing, runny or blocked nose and difficulty in breathing. Exposure to pollen may also set off an allergic reaction, leaving eyes swollen and weepy.

  • Avoid pollen as much as possible by closing windows and keeping surfaces clear with a damp duster.
  • Wear sunglasses which may help to protect your eyes from dust and pollen.
  • Visit your pharmacist to get medicated eye drops to help alleviate the itching and swelling.  If you wear contact lenses remember to check if you can use the drops while your lenses are in.
  • Wear your spectacles rather than your contact lenses when the pollen count is especially high. The level of pollen is usually lower in the evenings so you may find the symptoms ease during that time of the day.
  • The College has developed an infographic which outlines gives guidance on the best time to start taking eye drops depending on your allergy. You can see this infographic here.

Summer sports

Whether swimming, sailing, water skiing or scuba diving, it’s important that you take precautions to protect your eyes.

  • Wear goggles to protect your eyes when in the water as chlorine can irritate the eyes and may cause redness.
  • Do not swim wearing contact lenses. Always remove your lenses before showering or using a hot tub because there are bugs in the water which may lead to a particularly nasty eye infection and wearing contact lenses increases the risk of contracting such an infection. If you are a contact lens or glasses wearer, prescription swimming goggles are available at a modest cost.

Outdoor living

It can be tricky for contact lenses wearers to keep up hygiene levels for lens care if you are camping or staying at festivals.  Research by the College of Optometrists suggests that two fifths of people fail to wash their hands before handling their lenses. A survey showed that more than 15 per cent of wearers will pick a contact lens off the floor and put it straight in their eye without cleaning it, and one in five people  lick their lens before inserting them.

  • Always wash your hands before you put your contact lenses in your eyes.
  • Use the contact lens solutions that are recommended by your contact lens practitioner – never use tap water, the wrong solution, or lick them.
  • If you wear re-usable contact lenses, make sure you clean and disinfect them with the recommended contact lens solution between uses and clean them thoroughly if they drop on the floor.
  • If you have difficulty keeping your contact lens care routine whilst camping, consider wearing your spectacles instead or even trying daily disposable contact lenses for holidays so that you don’t have to worry about contact lens solutions whilst you are away.