How to protect your sight and hearing on holiday

Whether you are planning on soaking up the sun abroad or simply making the most of the Irish summer at home, it’s important to make sure you are looking after yourself to make sure you get the most out of your holiday.

That’s why Specsavers audiology chairperson, Martina McNulty, and Specsavers Ireland chairman, Kerril Hickey, are sharing advice on how to stop your holiday being ruined by common sight and hearing problems.


When flying to a new destination, dry eyes can often become a problem. The temperature and pressure-controlled plane cabin can easily dehydrate you, which only makes dry eyes worse. Applying some eye drops is a good idea to help with lubrication.

Air pressure changes can also cause ears to ‘pop’ which can often cause severe pain and hearing loss. Ms McNulty explains: "The popping sensation is a result of a difference in pressure between the inner ear and the outside environment, causing the ear drum to swell outward or be sucked inward depending on whether pressure is rising or falling. This only becomes a problem when pressure changes quickly, so pressure inside and outside the ear don't have time to equalise, for instance during take-off and landing.

"A simple solution to the pain, popping and muffled hearing associated with changes in pressure is to introduce as much air as possible to the ear via swallowing or yawning. Sucking on a hard boiled sweet, chewing gum, or drinking through a straw during take-off and landing all help. To avoid as much discomfort as possible it is also recommended that you don't sleep during take-off or landing, and stay hydrated."

Wear sunglasses

UV rays can damage our vision as well as our skin, warns Mr Hickey. "Prolonged UV exposure has been linked to cataracts, macular degeneration, and even some types of eye cancer. Sunglasses don’t need to be expensive, but they should always conform to agreed safety standards. Look out for a CE (European Community Standard ) or UV400 markings and aim for a pair that offer 80 per cent light reduction.’"

Stay hydrated

If you are suffering with dry, puffy, or irritated eyes it could be a sign you are not drinking enough water – especially if it’s a hot day.

Mr Hickey explains: "Dehydration causes the blood vessels in the eye to constrict, resulting in less blood flow being delivered to the eyes. This can cause puffiness, dryness, and irritation. We all know it’s important to stay hydrated, but this is especially true during summer. If drinking water doesn’t alleviate the symptoms, visit your local Specsavers for an eye appointment, as there may be an underlying cause."

Apply SPF

When applying sunscreen we may often forget our ears and eyelids. Ms McNulty says: ‘Our ears are one of the most sun-exposed parts of our bodies, so it is so important we protect them from the harmful effects of UV rays. Take care when applying sun cream to coat all the exposed surfaces and the nooks and crannies. Wearing a wide brimmed hat can also help too.’

Be sure too to use a cream that is suitable for the delicate and sensitive skin around the eyes.

Never wear contacts in water

Mr Hickey warns: "Do not wear your contact lenses while swimming as there is a risk of serious infection if you wear them in a pool or the sea. It's important to always wash your hands with non-cosmetic soap before handling contact lenses, never to use tap water to rinse them, and never to put contact lenses in your mouth. Microorganisms can also be found in distilled water, risking infection or sight damage." Prescription swimming goggles are a good alternative.

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