5 Tips for Protecting Your Eyes This Summer
With summer fast-approaching, many of us are thinking about how we are going to “get out and play.” Well, being no exception to this rule, I too am indexing on just how I’m going to squeeze in this sport and that activity and, well, get the most of our limited summer before the nasty rains return. And “nasty” is one word we can all agree on over this last winter. I’ve never seen anything like it. That said, with fun maximization on the mind, and a sense of “rush” to get it done before things turn back for the worse, we all too often forget the small things that can make a huge difference. In this case, protecting your eyes. So, here are ten useful tips for protecting your eyes as you unleash your inner “warrior.”
Tip #1: Wear Sunglasses w/Complete UVR Protection
Being the most obvious, this is a great place to start. We all know to wear sunglasses and, frankly, when you forget them it can be quite irritating. However, many sunglasses do not contain complete protection from ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Coming from the sun, UVR can also be reflected strongly off the water, snow or even sand.
No doubt, the best way to protect your eyes from UVR exposure is to buy and wear consistently a pair of sunglasses with 100% protection against both UVA and UVA rays (this according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)). Many brands of sunglasses offer this kind of protection (even lower cost ones) so you shouldn’t have trouble finding a pair. Of course, don’t forget your sunglasses when it’s cloudy…those dangerous rays are still getting through.
Medical Details: Too much exposure to UVR can cause photokeratitis or photo conjunctivitis (more commonly known as “snow blindness”) in the short-term. Continual UVR exposure, particularly exposure to UVB rays, may cause cataracts development, pterygium (a non-cancerous growth over the cornea) or skin cancer of the eyelids (Medical Details portion courtesy: GoodEyes).
Tip #2: Use Swim Goggles at the Pool
Most of us haven’t gone swimming for a while. Getting into the pool anew can be tough on your eyes thanks to chlorine, which is designed to protect you from germs. However, chlorine can harm your eyes. The easiest way to mitigate this potential damage is to wear swim goggles…religiously…when swimming in a pool. Other, natural bodies of water including lakes, rivers and the ocean also have other contaminants that can harm your eyes. Best rule of thumb? When swimming and getting your eyes wet in any kind of water (outside of the bath or show), swim goggles can make an “eye healthy” difference.
Medical Details: A 2008 study revealed that frequent exposure to chlorine negatively affects the integrity of your corneal epithelium. The epithelium provides a layer of protection to your cornea from irritants and pathogens. If that protection is compromised, you have an increased likelihood of corneal abrasion or other eye injuries (Medical Details portion courtesy: GoodEyes).
Tip #3: Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes and Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands on a regular basis, studies have shown, is literally the very best way to protect your eyes from the spread of communicable disease. Eye-related conditions including conjunctivitis can be avoided through this practice.
Medical Details: 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. When you come into Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center for professional eye care, you can rest assured that all specialists providing treatment or examination take your health and risk of infection very seriously (Medical Details portion courtesy: GoodEyes).
Tip #4: Wear a Hat
The gaps on the top and sides of sunglasses can let the sun in to reach your eyes. Even though you are (hopefully) wearing complete UVR protection sunglasses, this “sun leak” aspect can contribute to dangerous UVR exposure. Wearing a hat with a brim that is at least 3 inches wide will solve this problem.
The Medical Details: Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is a form of skin cancer that typically affects the eyelids, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. While it most commonly occurs on the lower eyelid, the site of most frequent exposure, it can also develop in the corners of the eye or under the eyebrows. While BCC does not usually spread to other parts of the body, it can certainly spread to the eye itself (Medical Details portion courtesy: GoodEyes).
Tip #5: Wear Protective Goggles
People sustain eye-related chemically-based and projectile-based injuries far more often in the course of their work than at home. That said, there are many scenarios in the home setting where your eyes can suffer damaging exposure to flying chemical agents and bits of wood, rock, etc. Here’s a very short list of situations that can cause damage to your eyes…helping to illustrate the point that wearing protective goggles when engaged in certain activities at home (and certainly at work) can be a very good thing.
The Medical Details: A 2013 analysis of chemical exposure claimed that eye-related chemical burns represent a serious ocular emergency that can ultimately cause serious damage or blindness. The CDC says 2,000 workers a day in the U.S. sustain an eye-related injury (Medical Details portion courtesy: GoodEyes).
Whether from exposure to the sun’s harmful rays, splashing chemicals or flying, blower-driven projectiles, it pays to protect your eyes. After all, we only have two (eyes) and, well, without them we are in a world of hurt, right? Following the tips above can help prevent some eye-related injuries and diseases. Further, drinking plenty of water, eating healthy and getting adequate sleep have all been shown to improve eye health as well. All together, you’ll be doing your eyes a good service! Be safe out there.
Header Image Courtesy: EyesOnBroadway.com (yes, you can buy these beautiful frames and lenses there)