AOP advice on eye care during festival season Banner overlay

Festivals: what’s all the fuss about?

Ian Beasley offers festival-goers valuable advice despite his mistrust of the muddy affair

16 Jun 2016 by Ian Beasley

So, it’s festival time again and I have to say that I fail to see what all the fuss is about. It is a sure sign that the silly season is upon us when the floodgates open to an endless string of trite social media posts along the lines of: ‘Two tickets for Glasto this weekend - don’t mind if I do.’ Of course, in the hope of looking vaguely cool, I invariably respond with an insincere: ‘Wish I could’ve made it this year mate - have a good one.’ Ahem, like I’m a seasoned campaigner. Only when they invent the: ‘I-hope-your-tent-slides-down-a-muddy-bank-in-torrential-rain’ emoji, will my response to these posts be truly authentic. 

I guess I have never really been attracted by the concept of festivals. And before you urge me to ‘Sit down and have another cup of Ovaltine grandad?’ I should point out that even during my carefree youth, embracing the great outdoors was not in the least bit appealing to me. Indeed, the signs were evident at an early age as it stands on record that I am the least decorated Cub in the history of the Scout movement, much to Baden-Powell’s disdain.

Lets explore the facts here. I mean, why would someone want to subject themselves to several days of sleep deprivation in a grotty field at the mercy of the British weather, just to listen to a bit of music? And don’t get me started on the lavatory facilities. No, I’m afraid that unless Glastonbury’s very own Michael Eavis is on hand to personally hand me a fluffy robe and slippers, craft my bath towels into a cleverly sculptured animal character, and fold the first sheet of loo roll into a perfect V-shape, then the Pyramid Stage will not be graced by my presence any time soon.  

Hygiene is the thing that concerns me most at these events particularly with my professional hat on as an optometrist. I do fear for who might crawl through the doors of the clinic on the morning after the weekend before. And, it is my contact lens patients that I am most anxious about. How many will have worn their lenses all weekend, prodding and poking with fingers engrained with who-knows-what? Will my neophyte cosmetic contact lens wearers be swapping their latest fashion accessories with their best friends? Having borne witness to tales of patients storing their contact lenses in fluids of various kinds including orange juice, gin and even urine (I kid you not), advising my patients to think about the importance of taking good care of their eyes at these events is a key priority for me. It is always worth stressing that using water for rinsing or storing contact lenses is a particularly dangerous tactic and can lead to sight-threatening infections which can strike within hours of Coldplay finishing their headline set.

So, for our intrepid contact lens wearers here is the essential festival survival kit to stave off an unwelcome trip to the nearest eye casualty department: antibacterial gel or wipes; a mirror; rewetting drops; spare set of lenses; and for our non-daily disposable wearers, be sure to take your contact lens solution and a couple of storage cases. Oh, and don’t forget your glasses.

Well, at this point I will wish those fearless revellers amongst us a safe voyage. In the meantime you will probably find me at the nearest spa retreat with a fully functioning Corby trouser press at my disposal and a glass of something cold and fizzy close to hand.

For more advice on contact lenses, watch our festivals and contact lens video.

Ian BeasleyOptometrist, Dr Ian Beasley, is Clinical Editor for Optometry Today, Head of Education for the Association of Optometrists and postgraduate researcher at Aston University