A holidaymaker has told how her face swelled up so much she couldn’t see after she got sun poisoning — thanks to cheap €10 sunglasses.
Joanne Mason, 40, picked up the specs from a beachside shop in Lanzarote, while on holiday with her husband James, 41.
She had no idea anything was wrong until she took them off to enjoy a drink in a pub – and her husband was shocked to see her eyes and nose had started to bulge.
A trip to the chemist did nothing – and the the next day when she woke up, her eyes were so swollen she couldn’t see a thing.
The restaurant manager had suffered a severe allergic reaction to the sun’s rays – called sun poisoning.
It occurs when your skin has been exposed to strong UV rays from the sun for too long, and good quality sunnies will block these from reaching your eyes and the skin around them.
The mum-of-one from Warminster, Warwickshire, is warning people of the dangers of wearing cheap sunglasses.
She said: “I looked so bad I didn’t even want to leave the hotel!”
“Since then I’ve been a lot more cautious about the sun and would not wear those type of cheap sunglasses again,
“My husband likes to laud that over me as I’ve always told him off for spending too much on them!
“Even looking back at the pictures now they weren’t even that pretty- the nice bit was all on the side and unless you took a picture on the side you wouldn’t even notice!”
The couple were on their first holiday in 21 years when Joanne suffered her ordeal on September 5 2019.
The day before she bought the pink sunglasses from a market stall.
“I just got them because they looked quite pretty, even had brought my own ones from home with me,” she said.
“They didn’t really say if they had any UV protection – I just assumed all sunglasses came with it at that point.”
After a day walking about Costa Teguise in the sunshine, Joanne and James decided to sit down for a drink at a pub at about midday.
She said a woman she got chatting to kept asking her if she was ok – and at the time Joanne had no idea it was because her face was swelling up.
About an hour later, Joanne put her new sunglasses on again to walk to another bar to get a drink.
She said: “When we arrived I took off my sunglasses again and my husband said ‘why didn’t you f*cking say something?’!
“I originally didn’t know what he was talking about, I hadn’t noticed anything or felt any pain the whole day.
“Then he took a picture of my nose and I was all swollen under my eyes and on my nose- it was like a cats face!”
They bought antihistamines from a nearby chemist, and unbraided the plaits shed had put in her hair, in case the tight hair do was the problem.
“James kept trying to reassure me that it wasn’t that bad but I refused to go out looking like that so we stayed in that night and missed a Texas-themed BBQ!” she said.
The couple went to bed but the next morning Joanne woke up unable to see.
When James switched on the light he was shocked to see her face had dramatically puffed up – and secretly ordered a taxi to hospital while she got dressed.
“He called up to see if I was dressed and said we should go out for breakfast, and then he guided me out past the pool and into the reception area,” she said.
“That’s when I heard him ask for a taxi, and when I questioned him he admitted ‘Yeah let’s go to the hospital, your face is exploding!'”
In hospital they communicated with medics using the Google Translate app and discovered it was caused by an allergic reaction to sunlight.
She had an injection, and after an hour could open one eye.
“When James first saw my face that morning I think he panicked but was trying to stay calm for me, but after the injection and it started to go down we both thought it was quite funny!” she said.
“The nurse asked me what I had eaten and I went through what I ate the day before but there wasn’t really anything that could give a reaction.
“That was when she suggested it could have been from the sun and said that sometimes strong UV rays can trigger a reaction because obviously we can’t put sun cream on our eyes!”
Joanne showed the staff her sunglasses and they confirmed they gave no UV protection and were just tinted glass.
She was prescribed some tablets to take for the rest of her holiday, and it took three days for the swelling to disappear.
She said: “I’ve been to the doctor in the UK since to try and confirm it was an allergy but they said we wouldn’t know for sure unless it happened again.”