When the sun comes out, we are all careful to apply sunscreen to protect our skin, but are we showing the same care for our eyes?
Harmful UV rays can slowly damage your eyes over time and put you at risk for conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration and thickening of the white parts of the eyes.
Summer sports and home activities can also pose risk to your vision. Whether mowing the yard, throwing a baseball, hammering nails or playing racquetball, you should wear protective eyewear. This is not just for the summertime, but summer offers even more opportunities for outdoor activities that could cause eye injury.
There is help available. This article provides you with the correct information you need to:
- Make wise and informed decisions about sunglasses, goggles, hats and other protective gear.
- Prevent exposure to contaminants in your daily environment.
- Understand the importance of offering the same protection for children, and Illustrate and encourage overall eye health.
We at Golden Eye Optometry aim to give you evidence-based advice on how to protect your eyes, in order to help you maintain good vision for many summers to come.
1. Wear Sunglasses with Complete Ultraviolet Protection
According to our optometrists, many people don't realize the importance of protecting their eyes from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Although you can't see it, you should always protect your eyes from overexposure to UV radiation. Don’t be fooled by overcast skies. Sunlight can harm eyes in any season, not just summer. Even on a cloudy day, UV light from the sun can cause sunburn on the cornea of your eyes. It can also cause blurred vision, redness, and irritation.
- Make sure your sunglasses provide 100% UV protection from both UVA and UVB rays. You can get lenses with UV coating, and polycarbonate lenses have built-in UV coverage.
- Consider photochromic or polarized lenses. Photochromic lenses, change from clear to dark automatically when exposed to UV rays. Polarized lenses reduce or eliminate glare and reflections from the sun. You can have coatings added to the lenses of your sunglasses and block 100% of UV rays.
2. Use Goggles at the Pool
Swimming without protecting your eyes from the water can result in redness and irritation. The reason redness and irritation occurs is due to the pH levels in the pool. If the pH is too high, the chlorine in the water won’t be able to disinfect properly and keep both the pool and the water clean. If pH is too low the pipes in and around the pool will corrode. When the pH level is perfect it will help prevent eye discomfort and help with disinfection. Unfortunately, the perfect pH range is very small and it is hard to control in pools that are very large. It is likely that the chemicals won’t be exactly as they should be and you will experience redness and irritation if you don’t protect your eyes while in the pool.
3. Wash Hands and Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes
Studies indicate that the best way to protect yourself from the spread of communicable disease is simply to wash your hands on a regular basis. This practice is crucial to avoid contracting eye-related conditions such as conjunctivitis. You often develop conjunctivitis after touching something that someone else has touched after they rubbed their eyes.
After any eye surgery such as LASIK, cataract surgery or glaucoma shunt surgery, your eyes are more susceptible to infection. The Centers for Disease Control suggests that you wash your hands thoroughly before you apply any treatments to your eyes, and avoid rubbing your eyes as much as possible. When you have conjunctivitis, be sure to wash your hands after putting in eye drops or ointment, to avoid spreading the disease to others.
4. Wear Hats
Many of us mistakenly believe that wearing sunglasses when we go outside is enough to protect our eyes from the sun. The unfortunate truth is that, in most cases, this is false. Unless your sunglasses are extremely high tech, they’re likely to let in UV from the top and sides of your vision, which could damage your eyes in the long term. Exposing your eyes to the sun, and to UVA and UVB rays consequently, can cause you to develop cataracts up to 10 years earlier than you otherwise would have.
Protecting your eyes is particularly important if you like to sunbathe or read in the sun for long periods of time. As well as wearing sun readers that protect you from UV rays, you should wear a hat or visor with a brim that casts a shadow onto your eyes. This will ensure that your eyes are in the shade, even when you aren’t, and will protect them from being damaged. It will also keep your head cool, especially if you have dark hair that tends to absorb heat on sunny days.
5. Protect Against Chemicals
While people are more likely to sustain chemical burns to their eyes while at work, there are several opportunities to hurt your eyes in non-occupational tasks, as well.
Hand or body soap bubbles that pop near your eyes
Spray paint that blows back into your face
Splashing cleaning solutions
These are all circumstances which can cause a chemical burn on your eyes; some more severe than others. You can prevent chemical exposure by taking appropriate precautions. Wear protective goggles or protective eyewear whenever you are working with any kind of toxic chemicals. Take care to handle solutions delicately, so that they do not splash.
6. Keep Children Safe and Start Young with Eye Protection
Too many people realize in adulthood that they should have thought of protecting their eyes when they were young. It is never too early to start with your children, however. The World Health Organization notes that as much as 80 percent of a person’s lifetime UVR exposure occurs prior to the age of 18. That is because children are far more likely to spend time playing outside, particularly during the warmer months. Thankfully, the solution is much the same as it is for adults. Apply regular sunscreen, particularly on your child’s face. Add a hat with a wide brim and comfortable sunglasses
7. Wear eye protection during outdoor activities
If you have ever had dust or sand in your eye, you know that chemical exposure is not the only environmental threat to your eyes. You should try to protect yourself, as much as practically possible, from contact with foreign bodies that can cause abrasions to your eye.
Most corneal injuries heal in a day or two without too much pain or difficulty. However, some environments, such as woodworking or yardwork, present a higher risk of long-term injury. Always look to prevention first, through the use of glasses or other personal protective equipment to shield your face and eyes from potential damage. Remember that certain medical eye conditions, such as chronic dry eyes, increase your risk of corneal abrasion. Seeking dry eye treatment or corneal exams from Golden Eye Optometry ensures that your eyes get the best care.
8. Eat Healthy and Drink Plenty of Water
You may be surprised to learn that what you eat has the power to affect how well you see. It’s not just carrots.
There are many foods rich in nutrients that improve your eyesight and help prevent the development of long-term vision problems. Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants known to help resist macular degeneration and cataracts. Adding a supplement or foods high in Vitamin C, Vitamin E and zinc can assist those with symptoms of age-related macular degeneration; they help slow or prevent the progression of symptoms.
Additionally, during the summer, people are more likely to become dehydrated, which can affect their eyes. Serious dehydration makes it harder for the body to produce tears, leading to dry eye symptoms and other vision problems. Drinking plenty of water each day can prevent and reverse many of the negative effects of dehydration, as well as providing fluid for normal eye function.
9. Use eye drops
Sometimes, despite your best attempts, you need to use some kind of eye drops to minimize pain or manage other eye problems. This can be especially true for those going through glaucoma surgery recovery.
If you have allergies that make your eyes feel tired or excessively dry, you may also benefit from ketotifen eye drops. However, you should also consult a qualified ophthalmologist to discuss a chronic need for eye drops. Dry eye symptoms may arise from temporary exposure to contaminants, or they could be a sign of something more serious. A specialist at Golden Eye Optometry can assess your concerns with chronic dry eyes and provide a dry eye treatment that addresses the cause of your problems.
10. Get Adequate Sleep
Although you know how important it is to get a good night’s rest, you may find it hard to get the sleep you need, particularly with a busy lifestyle. However, your eyes are counting on you to be rested.
In 2008, researchers discovered that people who have been awake as little as 18 hours start to suffer decreased cognition on visual tasks. This might not seem like a big problem until you realize that you need visual acuity to drive safely or attend to potentially dangerous activities like cooking or caring for children. Additionally, when you are tired, your eyes are more likely to feel dry. This encourages you to rub your eyes to stimulate the lacrimal gland, which increases the likelihood of exposure to irritants and diseases. The best way you can keep yourself alert and safe is to aim for a full night of sleep every night.
Those 10 tips will help your eyes over the summer. The best thing you can do to care for your eyes in the summer is to wear protective eyewear and a hat for any outdoor activities or tasks that involve potential exposure to toxic chemicals or other contaminants. While you follow this advice for prevention, you can make sure your children do the same.
By taking a proactive approach to eye care during the hot summer months, you can minimize the amount of time you need professional eye care. When you are looking for a specialist for general eye health, the experts at Golden Eye Optometry are ready to help you.