Summer is still upon us and during these warm and sunny months, we find ourselves enjoying many outdoor activities that might be impacting the health of our eyes. We may not be able to prevent some of these problems, but we can reduce the risk of negative effects on our vision by taking precautionary measures.
The Problem: Sun Exposure
While we love a good afternoon in the sun, the UV rays projected can cause severe issues. Studies show that exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of developing cataracts prematurely and growths on the eye. Furthermore, the bright reflection of the sun can be just as damaging as direct rays. The condition responsible for snow blindness, photokeratitis, can also be caused by sunlight reflected off sand and water.
UV radiation can damage the eye’s surface tissues as well as the cornea and lens. These injuries, a form of sunburn to the surface of the eye, are called corneal flash burns, or ultraviolet keratitis, and can cause pain, changes in vision or even loss of vision. Some symptoms can range from mild to severe pain, bloodshot eyes, light sensitivity, excessive tearing, blurry vision and the sensation of something foreign in the eye. Due to the sensitivity of our eyes, it is important that you seek medical care from your ophthalmologist when you are experiencing any blurred vision, change in vision or worsening eye pain.
Another summer activity that has proven to be problematic is swimming. Our eyes have the potential to suffer irritating infections caused by bacteria and chemicals found in pools, lakes, and oceans. Before diving in, be sure to remove contact lenses to prevent them from picking up chemicals and tiny bits of debris while you’re taking a dip.
The Solution: Cover up!
We all use sunscreen to protect our skin, but protecting our eyes is just as important. A simple way to protect our eyes from the sun is to put on a good pair of sunglasses. Your shades certainly do not need to be a huge investment, but be sure to purchase a pair that blocks 100% of UV rays, both UVA and UVB. If you’re on the market for a new pair of sunglasses, try to avoid blue tinted lenses as the tint actually emits ultraviolet light. Wraparound frames that fit closely to your face are also good features favored by your eyes, preventing rays from entering from above and around your frames. Wear a hat if you’re planning on spending a significant amount of time in the sun. Wide brimmed hats not only complete your outfit, but provide an additional barrier between you and the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Don’t forget! UV rays are strongest from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and it is important to protect your children’s eyes as well.
For more information, or to schedule an eye exam appointment, call (866) 742-6581.