An integral part of many cultures over the centuries, from Finland to Korea, the sauna has become famous for its many health benefits. Most of us associate the sauna with relaxation, detoxification and improved overall body fitness. But does the sauna have any benefits for our eyes? Can regular sauna use have a positive effect on our eyesight? These are the questions we will try to answer in this article.
How sauna affects the body
The sauna works by raising the body temperature, which leads to a number of physiological responses. One of these is the intensification of circulation, which is the result of the dilatation of blood vessels. The improved circulation affects all parts of the body, including the eyes, supplying them with more oxygen and nutrients.
The sauna is also known to promote relaxation and stress reduction. A sauna stay can help reduce cortisol levels, known as the ‘stress hormone’, which can have a positive impact on overall health.
Additionally, the sauna aids the body’s detoxification process. By sweating, the body removes toxins, which helps to improve the overall condition of the skin and can also indirectly affect eye health.
For further information on the effects of the sauna on the body, please read our separate article on the subject here.
However, despite all the benefits, the sauna can have negative effects on the eyes, especially those with problems.
Benefits of sauna for eye health and potential risks
Despite the many health benefits associated with saunas, there are some specific aspects that can affect eye health. The higher temperatures and humidity characteristic of saunas can affect the vascular tone in the eyes and, in some cases, lead to a sensation of ‘fog’ in front of the eyes. According to Optimalog comments, this phenomenon is related to a violation of the tonus in the retinal vessels caused by high temperatures.
Although such sensations are usually temporary and subside after leaving the sauna, for people with certain eye-related health conditions, such as glaucoma, there may be more serious risks. Acute attacks of glaucoma can lead to almost immediate loss of vision and can be triggered by extreme temperatures.
Other eye conditions, such as severe conjunctivitis, corneal oedema or other chronic and inflammatory eye diseases, can be worsened by sauna, increasing the likelihood of complications. Therefore, people with these health conditions should be cautious or avoid saunas.
In addition, prolonged sauna use can lead to problems such as dry eyes. As Dr Nikolaj Pozniak, an expert in eye diseases, points out, people with hypersensitivity should consider using moisturising eye drops before visiting the sauna. Blinking frequently when experiencing discomfort will also help with dry eyes.
Given this information, the most important recommendation is to consult a doctor or eye specialist before regular sauna use, especially if there are current eye problems.
Practical tips for using a sauna for eye health
- Frequency and duration of sauna use: there are no universal recommendations to suit every person, but it is usually suggested to use the sauna 1-2 times a week, not exceeding 15-20 minutes per session. Of course, it is necessary to adapt these recommendations to individual needs and heat tolerance.
- Breaks between sessions: Regular breaks between sauna sessions are necessary to allow the body, including the eyes, to rest and adapt to the normal temperature.
- Stay hydrated: Hydration is key both before and after a sauna visit. This helps prevent dehydration, which can lead to dry eyes. Remember to drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.
- Moisturise your eyes: To counteract dry eyes caused by the heat and humidity in the sauna, it is a good idea to use moisturising eye drops. Always have these on hand, especially if you are prone to dry eyes.
- Eye protection: Avoid direct eye contact with steam and hot air by closing your eyes.
- Medical consultation: If you suffer from any eye conditions, consult your doctor or an eye specialist before using the sauna.
Remember that these recommendations may not suit everyone and should be tailored to your individual needs. Always listen to your body and respond to its signals. If you experience any discomfort while using the sauna, end the session and consult your doctor.