The last days of summer are quickly approaching and everyone I know is trying to schedule in a final holiday or plan some new adventure for autumn or winter. I have been trying to squeeze in as many ‘summer’ activities as possible to take advantage of the last days of warmth. In the last few weeks, I’ve been traveling, going to the beach, hiking, swimming and have been staying super active. This season has been full of gorgeous sunsets, mountaintop views and adrenaline. So many of my experiences and memories are purely based on sight and sound, so I realize how important our eyes and ears are in creating unforgettable summer memories. That’s why taking a few extra precautions on our holidays, regardless of the season, will ensure that those memories continue for years to come!
* This post is sponsored by Leightons Opticians*
Regardless of whether it’s summer or winter, UV light is something that can really inflict some serious damage. Over time, exposure to sunlight can lead to serious problems such as cataracts, corneal sunburn and macular degeneration. Whether you’re sunbathing on the beach, going for a run or hitting the slopes, ensuring that you have adequate eye protection is crucial. When shopping for sunglasses, check for ones that have a UV400 filter, offering 99-100% protection from UVA and UVB rays.
One of my favourite feelings is when I’m snowboarding down a mountain, the wind is hitting my face and I start to feel the butterflies in my tummy from all of the adrenaline. What isn’t a great feeling is when the wind and cold are hitting my eyes and making them water. Wrap-around goggles are so important for sports and activities that involve speed. Wind and dirt can cause dry eye syndrome, irritating your eyes and impairing your vision, so having goggles can help prevent any problems.
Swimming is another one of my favorite sports. I love to go to the beach and spend a half hour or so swimming against the waves. If it’s wintertime, I will do laps in the pool at my gym. When swimming underwater without any eye protection, water can wash away your eye’s tear film. This film is really important in protecting your eyes from potential infections. If you’re swimming in a sea or lake, there are a lot of potentially harmful bacteria that can get in your eyes and cause serious issues.
Additionally, in indoor pools, chemicals such as chlorine can actually irritate your eyes and cause conjunctivitis, and it doesn’t get rid of all the bacteria either. I know that as a contact lens wearer, I try to be extremely careful when swimming because things can get lodged between the lens and eye and cause really terrible problems. Wearing goggles lowers your exposure to the water and some even have UV protection as well.
Running is something I try to do, regardless if I’m at home or on vacation. In my opinion, one of the best ways to explore a new city is to do it when you’re getting some exercise. I put on my trainers, turn on my Strava app, and find some music that gets me going – ‘headphones in’ means ‘the rest of the world out’. Not only is this dangerous if you’re running in the city, in terms of reaction time to hazards, but playing music loudly isn’t great for your hearing. Keeping your headphones at a reasonable noise level, or even learning how to run without music, will help you preserve your hearing in the long run (pun intended).
Going to concerts is one of the most amazing ways you can spend your holidays. There is nothing quite like experiencing your favourite music group live, surrounded by everyone belting the words to their hits. This summer I was able to go to BBC 1’s Big Weekend, and was able experience that feeling for myself. Imagine Dragons absolutely killed it on stage! They also (collectively, with the other bands) killed my eardrums. After being exposed all day to loud music, I was hearing ringing in my ears for days. That is not a good sign! Long term exposure to sounds more than 85 decibels can lead to noise-induced hearing loss or tinnitus, both of which can be permanent. So although it might not look very stylish or cool, I think next time, I’ll take some earplugs with me to lower the impact.
In addition to noise, water can pose a problem as well. Water-based sports such as surfing, paddle boarding, swimming, etc., can lead to a condition called surfer’s ear (or exostosis). This is essentially where cold seawater stimulates bone growth within the ear and ultimately can lead to blocking the ear canal. This can cause some nasty infections and may even result in temporary hearing loss. One of the ways to treat this is with surgery, but you can prevent it by wearing earplugs in the water to minimize the amount of seawater that enters your ear and keep what does get in at body temperature.
Holidays/vacations are an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and try something new and adventurous. Whether it’s surfing in Cali, snorkeling in Australia, skiing in Aspen or listening to your favourite group perform live at Glastonbury, being aware of the different hazards related to your favourite activity is a great way to make the most of the fun, while minimizing damage. If you have any additional questions about any aspect of your ear or eye health, or need to get them checked out, the experts at Leightons can provide tailored advice and treatment to suit your needs.
Do you have any tips/tricks to protect your ears and eyes when doing extreme activities?