Nomad Life Edition

Sunglasses & Sun Safety

The Importance of Eye Health for Travelers

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In a September interview with WIRED, Dr. Emily Johnston shed light on an unexpected aspect of the popular adventure-seeker destination, Mount Everest. Climbers braving the mountain know to expect its treacherous terrain and cold weather. However, many are unprepared for the fact that the world’s highest peak poses an additional yet significant threat — one that surprisingly involves their eye health.


In particular, Dr. Johnston emphasized the risk of developing snow blindness — a fancyname for UV keratitis. This is a condition where the corneas are exposed to excessive ultraviolet (UV) radiation, a common ailment for travelers unfamiliar with a new destination.


While not all travelers will find themselves climbing Everest, this revelation
highlights the importance of eye protection — especially for frequent globetrotters.

The Risks of Traveling in the Sun

The role of sun protection in the prevention of eye diseases during travel is often overlooked. Travelers tend to engage in outdoor festivities such as water sports and hiking during vacation, and 2023 research published in the Journal of Travel Medicine notes that UV keratitis can develop hours later and last up to three days. Thus, specialized solar filters that are certified and meet safety standards are necessary to ensure adequate protection during adventure travel, particularly in sunny locales.

Additionally, the researchers stress that the simple event of traveling and sightseeing already comes with increased sun exposure. Increased sun exposure during travel can later lead to cataract formation, and conditions such as solar retinopathy can additionally develop with unprotected gazing at the sun. The latter can result in acute foveal injury and outer retinal defects, making appropriate eye protection crucial to prevent such issues.

group of men and woman wearing sunglasses laugh together

Sun Safety in Hot Climate Conditions

Eye risks are exceptionally high in hot and sunny destinations. Professor Krzysztof Korzeniewski emphasizes that sunglasses are an indispensable travel accessory to combat these risks. But not just any sunglasses will suffice. Travelers must choose sunglasses that meet specific criteria for effective UV protection. Look for sunglasses labeled as “UV400,” “100% UV reduction,” “100% block,” or “UV 100%.”

In his 2020 publication in International Maritime Health (IMH), Korzeniewski notes that  contact lens wearers may consider purchasing from manufacturers who now market
lenses that block UV radiation. However, this is still a developing technology. For
travelers with poor vision, prescription sunglasses from well-established brands can be
a game-changer. Their lens technology is thoroughly tested in different conditions,
ensuring vision correction and UV protection.

Choosing from a well-established brand also ensures a variety of popular frame designs, such as the Holbrook and Frogskins of Oakley, which are fitted with patented PRIZM™ lenses. This provides a comfortable and stylish experience when exploring sun-kissed destinations like the archipelago nation Cabo Verde, whether you are a passing tourist surfing at Praia de Santa Maria or a digital nomad typing away at SoLuz Coworking & Networking.

Nevertheless, the IMH publication strongly recommends that travelers report to a medical facility if severe eye problems occur. Hence, preparing for unforeseen health emergencies during your journey is essential. This is where travel medical insurance steps in. It provides coverage for medical expenses, emergency evacuations, and other health-related incidents that may occur while you’re abroad. For travelers who prioritize comprehensive protection, specialized travel insurance plans go beyond the basics and ensure you have access to the best eye care services anywhere in the world. Eye protection through quality sunglasses is your first line of defense against UV radiation.

Thus, the combination of eye protection and travel medical insurance creates a winning strategy for guaranteeing your well-being on the road. So before you set out on your next sun-soaked adventure, explore our different choices of international coverage at Insured Nomads.


With our travel medical insurance,

coupled with UV-blocking sunglasses, you can embark on your journeys confidently,

knowing that you’ve taken the necessary steps to prioritize your eye health.