Summer vacation in Oregon offers a much-needed opportunity for families to relax and share time together after the wear-and-tear of everyday life.

But amidst the chaos of checking into hotels and slathering sunscreen on the little ones, it can be easy to overlook the dangers to our eyes that are presented by the warm season. Read on for 5 tips from OES to help you avoid the pain and disruption of unintended eye health concerns this summer.

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Remember these health tips before you embark on your trip:

We asked Oregon Eye Specialists’ very own Dr. Devin Gattey to share some insights into how patients and their families can prepare for the season.

  1. Avoid exposing your eyes to chlorine. Chemical exposure to eyes is a serious matter, and the seemingly benign substance of chlorine is no exception. Contact with chlorinated water leads to redness and irritation, as well as temporary blurriness from cornea swelling. But perhaps the most serious concern is the possibility of bacteria – pink eye is the most common infection that spreads through pools. If chlorine manages to make an entrance, immediately rinse eyes with clean water (a close-by water bottle will do).
  2. And speaking of the pool, keep your contacts away. Contact lenses and water can create a dangerous combination that often leads to contamination. Wearing contacts while swimming in any body of water – fresh, salty, or chlorinated – puts you at serious risk. “One of the worst eye infections we see in the clinics is a type of amoeba that is found in most bodies of water,” says Dr. Gattey. “Wearing contact lenses while swimming greatly increases the risk of catching this bug. If you must wear contact lenses while swimming, use a disposable type and immediately remove them after getting out of the water.”
  3. Beware excessive air conditioning. AC can seem like our best friend during a scorching afternoon. But as relieving as the cool air feels, remember to be moderate with how long or how high you turn the dial up. If an inflated electricity bill weren’t bad enough, excessive air conditioning can lead to dry eye syndrome, resulting in redness and scratchiness.
  4. Take extra precautions with fireworks. Fireworks are a favorite American pastime for celebrations and holidays, but it’s imperative that you and your family take precautions. “Some of the most serious eye injuries I’ve seen have come from backyard fireworks displays,” says Dr. Gattey. “Trauma from bottle rockets and burns from hot embers landing in the eye can cause permanent vision loss. Don’t let children run the show, and if they want to help, use safe and sane fireworks and encourage them to wear safety glasses.”
  5. Invest in a pair of sunglasses that block UV rays and debris. As we all know, sunshine is an especially hot commodity in Oregon – but unfortunately, it can take a serious toll on your eyes. In our blog post last month, we spoke about the risks of sun exposure to your eye health, and covered a few effective ways to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. In this case, sunglasses are your best bet. Pick out a pair of shades that will shield you from sunburns, cataracts, skin cancer, and the rogue debris that comes along with all the activities that Oregon has to offer. Don’t forget to bring your sunglasses along while hiking or biking – they can provide a physical barrier to prevent rocks and dirt from entering your eye. Consider coming into one of our Sight Shops where the trained Oregon Eye Specialists staff can assist you in finding the right pair for your needs.

Oregon Eye Specialists are here to help.

While these eye health tips can support the eye health of you and your family in the coming months, we realize that unexpected issues can still occur. Our doctors at Oregon Eye Specialists are prepared to provide families and parents with advice and tools before you depart on your trip, or assist you if any problems arise when you return.

Eye problems can put a dark cloud over the sunniest day – find the nearest Oregon Eye Specialists clinic near you for support this summer.

About the Expert

Dr. Devin Gattey is an experienced cataract surgeon at OES. He joined the OES team in 2013 after practicing for 11 years with Casey Eye Institute at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and serving as their director of comprehensive ophthalmology and lead cataract surgeon. He also founded and led their International Ophthalmology Program. At OES, Dr. Gattey practices comprehensive ophthalmology with a special interest in complex cataract surgery and advanced lens implants. Learn more about Dr. Devin Gattey »