Warning! Lack of camping hygiene could damage your eyesight

Don’t fall foul of basic hygiene this summer! Check out these tips from Optical Express to keep your eyes protected

Thousands of people across the UK could be damaging their health and sight this summer by forgoing basic hygiene while on camping holidays.

That’s according to health experts at Optical Express.

With the British weather seeing an unprecedented and extended heatwave, Brits of all ages are flocking to campsites for their annual vacation and to soak up the most of the sun’s rays. But Optical Express says that while camping is a great experience for many, it can mean that hygiene is compromised and not always upheld to the usual standard when at home.

“Camping may be one of the favourite Great British holidays for families and couples, but in fact campsites are a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, which can not only be damaging to our health, but have detrimental effects on our sight too,” says clinical services director Stephen Hannan.

Eye Infections

A lack of eye health hygiene at a campsite can lead to common eye infections, such as conjunctivitis or an infectious keratitis (infection of the cornea). Contact lens wearers are especially susceptible as there is regular contact between your eyes and hands. Speak to your optometrist about using daily disposable lenses, as these will mean you don’t need to clean them after each use, instead moving on to use a completely new lens. However, if using monthly lenses, always bring two storage containers and never leave them to soak in water.  Always use appropriate contact lens solutions as recommended by your optometrist and remember to wash your hands appropriately before touching your eyes.

Corneal Abrasion

When camping, the weather is usually a little unpredictable. Scorched dry grass and sea winds whip up sand particles, sending these into our eyes, which can result in the eye turning red and the cornea swelling. Rubbing the eye can exacerbate the minor scratch, which usually causes itchy sensation and form a deeper scratch on the eye.


The pollen count generally increases as the temperature rises, which can irritate our eyes, particularly when hiking and camping. At a campsite, access to running water can be limited and harmful bacteria can build up on your hands, whilst rubbing your eyes can aggravate them, causing them to get bloodshot and can result in a common eye infection. Always bring antihistamines and eye drops to a festival to minimise the effects of allergies.  An optometrist can advise on appropriate management.

Dry Eye

When we go on holiday or for a mini-break, it’s natural to indulge a little more than usual. However, consuming large quantities of alcohol can not only dehydrate your body, but cause irritation and result in dry eye, which is where the eye does not produce enough moisture to protect the iris and remain comfortable. Alcohol can also lead to blurred vision as it causes the eye lens to swell, reducing your inability to see.

Top tips to keep your eyes protected:

1.      UV 400 protection

Often when camping, you are outdoors for a prolonged period of time, which means it’s important to choose the right pair of sunglasses. We’d recommend always trying and choosing a pair that offers UV 400 protection, as this can eliminate 97-100 per cent of UV rays.

Even if you are wearing sunglasses that are tinted, there are options available that offer no UV protection and can damage your eyes more than not wearing your sunglasses. Tinted lenses can trick the pupils into dilating, allowing more UV light to enter the eye, without offering protection.

2.      Remove contact lenses

As tempting as it is to leave your lenses in place, it can be very damaging for your eyes to wear them for a longer period than recommended. Although contact lenses are designed to let your eyes breathe, leaving them in for long periods can leave your eyes dehydrated and tired. As an alternative to contact lenses you could consider Laser Eye Surgery, To find out more visit a refractive surgery provider such as Optical Express to understand if you are a candidate for procedures such as LASIK.

3.      Ensure you have clean hands

Although it’s common practice, clean hands are vital when touching your eyes or using any form of lenses, but when you are camping it can be difficult to get access to fresh running water. When sat around a campfire smoke can irritate your eyes, leading you to rub them. We always recommend washing and drying your hands thoroughly before handling your eyes or lenses, but an alternative is to use anti-bacterial hand gel before attempting to use them.

4.      Stay hydrated

It’s important to stay hydrated when you go camping, as many choose to go hiking and forget to top up with water. However, dehydration can cause eye irritation, particularly for those wearing contact lenses. We’d recommend bringing some eye drops or lens drops, which can soothe irritated eyes. Being exposed to sunlight for a long period can result in sunstroke, so it’s vital to drink at least eight glasses of water a day at your campsite.

Camping is a great way to spend time with friends and family, however it’s important to be protected in order to enjoy your break to the fullest and be safe. However, if you have any concerns about your health, look for a local GP or walk in clinic where you will be able to seek medical advice. If you have any concerns about your sight following your break, book an appointment at your optometrist at your earliest opportunity.

Optical Express is Europe’s only full-service eye care provider, offering eye examinations and every optical solution from glasses and contact lenses to laser eye and lens surgery.

To book an eye test, or for more information, visit the Optical Express website


Why you should add ‘24 hours outdoors’ to your list of New Year resolutions

Everybody should put ‘24 hours outdoors’ on their list of New Year resolutions.
That’s according to the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show 2018, whose new research has found that those who camp are happier, healthier, less stressed, and spend more quality time with family and friends.
Research conducted by The Camping and Caravanning Club revealed that 93% of campers agree with the notion that camping makes people feel happier. Nearly half of non-campers also agreed. 97% of campers said camping generates happy memories, while 76% of campers are satisfied with their quality of life compared to just 59% of non-campers. 70% of campers believe camping and caravanning is a good way to make new friends, of which 40% said they’ve made ‘friends for life’. Those who camp say it’s a great social leveller and is accessible to everyone regardless of income.
With The World Health Organisation estimating depression-related illnesses will become the greatest source of ill-health by 2020^, 85% of adult campers feel camping can make individuals healthier and almost half think it should be prescribed on the NHS. Campers aged 55 and over are more likely to regard themselves as fit and healthy for their age than non-campers. 79% of youngsters who have never camped say they would like to go camping and one in three believe camping would make them healthier.
Studies also show that families who camp together have better relationships, with eight in ten campers agreeing that camping brings families closer: 91% of children say spending time exploring the outdoors with a parent would make them feel happy. Children who have camped are significantly more likely to have experienced activities such as kite flying, tree climbing, den-making, and cooking on a campfire.
The campaign encouraging all to spend ‘24 hours outdoors’ in 2018 is endorsed by the world’s greatest living explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who will appear alongside other celebrities at the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show 2018.
Sir Ranulph said: “With the New Year upon us, there’s never been a better time to take charge of your mental health, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to spend more time outdoors in the fresh air. No matter your age, everyone can add a little adventure to their life, but don’t feel you have to commit to long expeditions or wild escapades, a night spent in the garden can work just as well and is also a lot of fun!”
Also supporting the initiative is female-adventurer Anna McNuff, who added: “Getting outside doesn’t have to mean embarking on arduous mountain treks or cycling for hundreds of miles. Heading to your local hill to watch the sun go down, taking a Sunday walk through the woods or spending an afternoon at the local park can do the trick too. All these things will do wonders for your physical and mental health.”
73% of all adults say camping is something every child should experience, with 46% of campers believing camping improves children’s behaviour. Parents who take children camping cite the top benefits as kids’ freedom within a safe environment, an escape from technology and enjoying a simple life outdoors. Other benefits include family interaction, developing community values and social skills as well as the opportunity to explore new places and cultural attractions.
Parents also feel that camping and caravanning has a positive effect on their child’s education, with 82% saying camping broadens experiences, encourages them to think for themselves, gives insight into nature and topics such as geology and provides stories to share in class. 52% of tent users felt that cooking when camping had a positive effect on their child’s learning and 77% of campers say camping introduces new skills. 60% of non-campers also acknowledged this to be true.
The Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show 2018 takes place at Birmingham’s NEC from 20 to 25 February and showcases the latest in leisure vehicles, camping, caravan holiday homes and lodges, as well as must-have accessories. Tickets are on sale now.