Looking after your eyes camping during festival season
You’re planning to go hiking, camping, or to a festival, but between making sure you have everything packed and finalising arrangements, you’re lucky if you have time to give your eyes a thought.
Yet other than your legs, sense of hearing, and the folding chairs, clear vision is one of the most important things you need for your trip. And so, especially if you wear contacts, it bears taking a few minutes to stop and consider the risks to your eyes and what you need to do to help make sure you go and come back with it.
It’s difficult to stay sterile when you’re in the mud, surrounded by swathes of other people, and unable to shower for several days. There’s no denying this is bad news if you wear contact lenses and you want to avoid getting an eye infection.
At the best of times, contact lenses are like magnets to dust and grime. But when you’re camping or at a festival, their pulling power is cranked up another notch. Particles and bacteria that are on your hands and in the air often settle on the surface of the eye and get trapped, leading to eye irritation, blurry vision, and infections such as conjunctivitis and infectious keratitis.
Other than wearing glasses and staying away from the mosh pit and any drunk, clumsy people (difficult when it’s you), your best bet is to speak to your optometrist about daily contact lenses or, even better, have Laser Eye Surgery prior to your trip.
The former will mean you don’t have to worry about cleaning your lenses in a tent or Portaloo after each use, and the latter will mean you never have to worry about contacts or infections at a festival or outdoorsy trip ever again.
It’s the last time and place you want your allergies to start playing up, but unfortunately, it’s when it’s most likely it’s going to happen.
Whether hiking, dancing, or just casually sitting in a field, pollen can attack at any moment and from all angles during festival season. And when you’re somewhere with limited access to running water and that also happens to be a hotbed for harmful bacteria, it can quickly escalate from itchy, bloodshot eyes to something much more serious.
Antihistamines and eye drops should be first on your packing list if you’re likely to suffer from allergies. They’ll help minimise the symptoms and keep your eyes as moist and comfortable as possible.
Long days out in the sun, late nights, and a few too many sherries can all contribute to dehydration whether at a booze-fuelled festival or taking a quiet mini-break in the country.
Most of us recognise the common signs of dehydration — dry mouth, a headache, feeling tired — but all too often we neglect the effects it may be having on our eyes. This is worrying, especially when at a festival as alcohol can quickly strip the eyes of moisture and lead to irritation and dry eye.
Dry eye can make it difficult for your eyes to produce enough fluid, and as a result, cause them to become uncomfortable and unable to protect themselves from incoming bacteria and pathogens. As they also contribute to dryness in the eye, this is particularly the case when wearing contact lenses.
To reduce the chances of developing dry eye, avoid long periods in the sun, take in at least eight glasses of water a day, and always have on hand some lubricated eye drops. If it isn’t too big of an ask, you could also, maybe, potentially, take it a little bit easier on the booze.