Tips to Protect Your Eyes During the Summer
Summer is a time when people tend to spend more time outdoors enjoying the sun, and let’s be honest, most of us can’t get enough of that summer sun. It gives us that bronze glow, makes our hair lighter, and the days longer. While many people are taking the precaution of protecting their skin with sunblock, they may not realize their vision can also be at risk of damage. Without proper eyewear, the eyes are exposed to the same harmful UV rays that cause sunburn which can damage the sensitive parts of the eyes and cause serious harm.
Did you know sea foam reflects about 25% of UV radiation and dry sand reflects about 15%? Grass, soil and water even reflect UV rays!
Exposing your eyes to too much sun can lead to a number of eye health issues including:
It can take many years for certain eye diseases to develop, but each time you are out in the sun without proper protection, you risk causing damage to your eye that can lead to such issues.
Your eyes can suffer sun damage whenever you’re outside, no matter the time of year. The fairer your skin, the lighter your eyes, and the older you are, the higher your risk for developing eye damage. If you spend a lot of time outdoors for work or leisure (surfers, people who fish, farmers, etc.), your risk is even greater. If you’ve had cataract surgery, you may be at more of a risk unless the artificial lens you received during surgery absorbs UV rays. If you think you’re safe because it’s cloudy and hazy outside, think again. Eye damage is still possible!
The bottom line – we’re ALL at risk. Eye protection during the summer months is essential to preserve and protect your vision. Despite your age, everyone should follow a few easy-to-remember guidelines for healthy eyes.
Are you waking up after a day out in the sun with your eyes feeling or looking a little out of the norm? You may be suffering from sun burnt eyes if you have these symptoms:
Ah, summertime! The season that’s filled with vacations and summer activities. While it’s arguably the best time of the year, summer comes with lots of sun. UV can be such a serious risk during the summer that the EPA and the National Weather Service publish a daily UV index map that can help you learn the risk of harmful UV exposure in your local area. Make sure you stay informed about what conditions are going to be like, especially if you are going on a long drive or will be involved in any activity that keeps you outdoors for long periods.
Avoid peak hours. UV Rays are strongest between 10:00AM and 2:00PM. It is recommended that you stay in shaded areas during this peak time to prevent sunburn and damage to the eyes. If you must be outside during this time, seek shaded under a tree, shelter, or use an umbrella to protect your eyes from strong UV rays. Don’t let the clouds fool you. Even on a cloudy overcast day, UV rays can be just as strong!
If you participate in many outdoor activities, your eye doctor may recommend the purchase of a pair of sunglasses or other form of protective eyewear as part of your vision check. These glasses do much more than tone down the glare of visual light; they can also help to block the harmful UV rays that can contribute to everything from the development of cataracts to the onset of macular degeneration.
The best sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays are marked as “100% UV Protection.” You will also want to look for sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection, only some offer both types of protection. The best type of sunglasses should also wrap around your eyes provide better protection in all directions. To eliminate glare, consider polarized glasses. If you typically wear eyeglasses, purchasing a pair of prescription sunglasses is a great idea.
Keep color in mind when choosing a suitable pair of sunglasses. The best colors include:
You might think that just wearing sunglasses every time you walk outside is protecting you, but it’s not. Your eyes and eyelids are not receiving complete UVR protection. In addition to sunglasses, a wide brimmed hat, at least 3 inches wide, a baseball cap, or even a visor can provide extra shade, acting as a second defense against harmful UV rays.
Swimming is the best way to cool off in the summer, and is a great exercise. However, if you’ve ever gotten chlorine in your eyes, you know it’s a terrible feeling. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it’s also awful for your eyes. Studies have shown that frequent exposure to chlorine negatively affects the integrity of your corneal epithelium, which can lead to increased eye injuries.
How could a day at the beach not be relaxing? If sand makes its way into your eye, the day may not be as pleasant! If sand ends up in the eye, it can scratch the surface and potentially lead to a corneal abrasion. Often this minor issue results in only discomfort and redness. However, it can turn into something more serious if fungus and bacteria appears. Wraparound sunglasses can keep your eyes free of sand.
Certain medications can put you at a higher risk for sensitivity to UV rays. These medications include Tetracycline, Sulpha Drugs, Birth Control Pills, and Diuretics.
Fend of summer stresses by keeping your kitchen stocked with the right foods. When you incorporate certain vitamins and minerals to your diet, you boost your vision and eye health to prevent sun damage. Appropriate foods would include ones that are high in vitamin C and E, minerals such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega fatty acids. These are just a few examples of the types of food you should add into your diet:
Dehydration is a common concern during the summertime, so hydration is key! Serious dehydration makes it more difficult for the body to produce tears, leading to dry eye symptoms and other vision problems. Drinking plenty of water helps replenish fluids in our body as well as our eyes.
Children’s eyes can receive up to 80% of their lifetime UV exposure by the age of 18. Kids are at risk for developing severe vision damage later in life without the proper use of regular UV eye protection. Unlike an adult eye, a child’s eye cannot effectively filter out UV rays which means even more radiation reaches their retina.
In addition to sunglasses, a hat will also shield the child from harmful UV rays. Select a hat that will shade the head, face, eyes, ears and neck. Baseball caps are not suggested, as they do not offer enough protection; bucket or wide-brimmed hats are ideal.
It can be challenging to keep a hat on a baby or toddler, as they’re usually not fans of headwear. Reinforce wearing a hat every time they go outdoors. By doing so, you will help them to connect that with an outside routine. Adults can be great role models by wearing a hat each time they are outside in the sun with the child as well. After all, monkey see monkey do, right?
The redness and discomfort faced during the minor stages is reversible. However, the yellowish deposit is irreversible and can actually worsen as the years go on, resulting in scarring or even cancer. The deposit is normally treated with artificial tears and sunglasses while being observed over time to avoid further growth. The most common long-term side effect of sun damage is cataracts, often appearing between the ages of 40 and 50.
Malignant melanoma of the eye is a rare condition that can follow after the eye has been exposed to too much UV or sunlight. Although rare, it is the most frequent type of eye cancer in adults. The most common layer impacted by malignant melanoma is the choroid layer, where the blood vessels are stowed.
Because many will not show any symptoms of malignant melanoma, it is often found during a routine eye exam. For those who cultivate symptoms, they may include – bulging eyes, changes in the color of your iris, vision changes, red, swollen eyes with pain, and small visible defects on your iris or conjunctiva. If the tumor is small and not growing, treatment may not be suggested. On the other hand if your tumor is large with potential to spread to other organs, a more aggressive treatment may need done.
Regular vision checks are an essential part of protecting your eyesight and catching early warning signs of sun damage and other problems that may risk harming your vision. Our team of eye doctors and optometrists are trained to not only check your prescription but perform an in-depth medical analysis of your vision and eyes to ensure that you are not only seeing clearly but healthily too.
Caring for the eyes, especially during summer, is critical. Harmful UV rays are everywhere so the eyes are always at jeopardy. Following these simple tips will make outdoor time more pleasant and safe for the eyes.
If you notice your eyes hurting after a day in the sun or any other abnormalities in your vision it is extremely important that you receive a full, medical vision test as soon as possible. Many conditions caused by sun damage are easily treatable if caught early and our team has the latest diagnostic and medical equipment available to make the process easier than ever.
If you have any questions about your vision or if you would like to schedule a Vision Test with our expert team contact us today at 302-993-0722.
A comprehensive eye exam is recommended every 1-2 years, depending on your age, risk factors, and whether you are currently wear corrective lenses. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a baseline eye exam at age 40. If you have diabetes, a yearly-dilated eye exam is recommended to screen for problems related to diabetes in the eyes. If you are 65 or older, make sure you have your eyes checked every year for signs of diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.
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