Jump in eye infections after holidays

  • Deborah Condon

People who wear contact lenses should consider taking a break from them when they are on holiday, an eye doctor has said.

According to UK consultant ophthalmologist, Dr Parwez Hossain, eye doctors ‘almost always' see a rise in attendances in August and early September.

"We almost always see an increase in infections when people return from holiday, particularly if they have been to very hot countries," he said.

He noted that many of these cases relate to poor hygiene, such as washing reusable contact lenses with tap water or swimming and showering with lenses still in. This can expose a person to micro-organisms that thrive in moist environments, which can lead to an infection.

Other issues include leaving contact lens solution in direct sunlight or putting lenses in solution that was poured out earlier. Both of these scenarios weaken the solution's ability to properly disinfect lenses.

"People need to be aware that washing lens cases with water is a danger at any time, but it multiplies in very hot environments when bugs spread more quickly. Swimming pool water also carries a risk, while pouring solution out and leaving it for long periods will almost void its ability to adequately clean lenses," Dr Hossain explained.

He also warned about the dangers of sand getting between the cornea and the lens - this can wear down the surface of the eye.

Dr Hossain insisted that if people cannot follow the strict standards needed to maintain their lenses properly, ‘their best and safest option is to take a break and stick to prescription glasses and sunglasses'.

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