Gone are those days when Spectacles symbolized experience. Now, spectacles have become a style statement. But, when it comes to trekking, spectacles may not be that tempting. Blurring vision is the most common issue of the youth. Therefore, technology has come up with various solutions also. With many options available, it is confusing to choose one. To use Contact lenses, Spectacles or LASIK. Especially, for trekkers like us who love to embrace the mountains, as we embraced the technology too. For all of you who are still confused, I am writing based on my experience as I am the proud enjoyer of all the three!
I have hiked wearing contact lenses, spectacles and now 1.5 years old LASIK surgery. Here is what I have learned about trekking with all three.
Honestly, I never really liked wearing glasses. I have always worn specs right from school days. Despite that wearing them during a trek was new. Some of the basic problems I noticed and what I did to solve them,
Slipping from the nose due to sweat: To avoid this, always wipe your sweat. These days there is eyeglasses retainer to stop from slipping.
Due to sweat, glasses get foggy: Again wiping sweat every now then works. But, if a slow walking pace is maintained then this will not be a problem, as you will not sweat at all.
Wearing them in rains is like a nightmare, foggy, slipping from nose and whatnot. Especially on a trek like Hampta Pass, where it rains continuously. Maintaining a dry cloth is a task there. Try to keep 2-3 dry clothes in a plastic well before in advance. While walking keep it in poncho or jacket pockets secured in plastic. Remove it out only in the shade so that the cloth does not get wet. Again tissues can also be used.
Cannot cover the face in cold else the glasses would get foggy due to breathing. Try to cover the face such nose is not covered or open the face for a few breaths when the fog starts accumulating. Then cover it again. You can try anti-fogging products available in the market.
No sunglasses. You can custom make your glasses to be used in the sun with UV protection. Separate tinted, UV glasses are available in the market. They have the magnet to be attached on spectacles and are detachable. You can use them if your glasses are not UV protected.
Full frames are heavy, but frameless are too delicate for a trek. I always preferred frameless at home as they are light on the nose. But for treks, I used half framed spectacles that are tough and can tolerate falls without breaking the glass. Always carry a spare spectacle in case one break.
Extra care at night, not to misplace them.So that glasses do not break between clothes or sleeping bag. Always keep them in the side pockets of the tents. Never sleep wearing glasses in the sleeping bag.
Cleaning of glasses means keeping a clean cloth ready, which is always difficult. Soft tissues also work, in case there is no cloth.
Due to all of these, I turned towards Contact lens. However, I found some discrepancies with lenses too.
Lenses for long hours without changing: It is always prescribed to change the lenses after 8 hours. Even if all night lenses can be used, keeping them for a long duration causes dryness and blurriness. To cope up with this, during the trek, when I would reach the campsite before 6 pm, I would remove the lenses. During daylight itself, it is easy to remove them and keep safe. But on long days it is not always possible. But if you can you should change lenses or switch back to glasses when it starts getting darker. Always try to remove or change lenses the next morning no matter what.
Clean hands for lenses is difficult. Even at night while removing them make sure hands are clean. Either wash or use a sanitizer. Next morning, again check your hands before putting lenses on. Best is to use one-day disposal lenses. Even if you have regular ones, make sure to carry a lot of solution. Every day, empty lens case and add the fresh solution. Due to risk of unclean hands, it is always preferable to not to wear one lens for more than 10-12 hours.
Solution or lenses freeze in extreme cold: However, I never really faced this problem. Because I always kept the solution bottle and lenses case in a sleeping bag while sleeping. Even if it does freeze, try to put the frozen lenses in your mouth on your tongue. With the body heat, it will come to normal form. Take care not to tear the lenses.
Changing lenses without a mirror. Well, this is the biggest issue for me. Till date, I cannot put lenses without a mirror. I have used torchlight and selfie camera! Firstly, mastering the technique of wearing lenses without a mirror is important. If not that, keep a mirror always handy. In the worst case use your mobile phone selfie camera. Use a head torch on dark mornings.
Lenses may come out anytime while trekking:Have you experienced that when sweat droplets or raindrops drain into eyes from edges, the lenses cause discomfort? It may also come out at times. Well, this happened to me a lot of times! Also when something gets stuck in eyes due to wind, rubbing eyes the lenses tend to come out and may tear also. Carefully try to put them back when they come out or use new ones. Also, keep lenses and solution handy while trekking also. You can use water if there is no solution. In the worst case, when you don’t have a solution or extra lenses, you can put the lens in mouth, damp on tongue then reuse.
Eye-drops are necessary. This is a precaution in case of dry eyes or itching.
Carry extra lenses, extra solution and spare spectacles also. In the worst case, any of them may come to rescue the blurred eyesight.
In case of infection, you cannot do anything! Therefore, extra care must be taken when it comes to using contact lenses. If it gives clear and broad views, it needs special care too.
Again, to overcome the issues of Lenses I finally resorted to LASIK surgery. In April 2018, I underwent a successful eye correction operation. My life is simpler, I must say! None of the above hassles. It is possible to enjoy every sight clearly. But, there are some forethoughts,
Go for a trek strictly after one month of the LASIK surgery, not before that. 80% recovery happens within 2 weeks of the surgery and 90% after a months time, rest over 3 months or a year. Hence, just to be precarious for that 20%, avoid planning treks immediately. However, if you wish to go, plan after 2 weeks.
Always carry eye drops. Immediately after LASIK, you may feel dryness. It is natural and happens to everyone. That does not mean, it must be ignored. Timely keep watering your eyes. I keep drops handy even today, when I feel dry eyes.
If you want to be even safer, it is always good to plan a trek after 3 months when eyes are fully recovered after the surgery. Planning after a year of the surgery is the best.
It is always good to consult your doctor if you have more dry eyes.
My Final Word
For LASIK: High altitude or low temperature never affect your eyes after LASIK surgery. Neither, AMS does. It is a safe procedure. Within a year of LASIK, I have done 4-5 treks, some in winter also. After 3 months of the surgery, I have also done swimming and water sports. It has not affected my sight. Although, I would say when my eyes feel dry at times. I always keep eye drops handy for that.
Lens or Specs: For those who cannot take LASIK surgery, I would suggest selecting for lenses on treks only if you have prior experience of handling them at home. Having said that, follow what you are comfortable with. Just remember, to take proper eye care. Because the beauty seen through eyes cannot be expressed in words.