July 21, 2017

Information from the Barnet Perkins Eye Center provides great evidence-based advice on how to protect your eyes this summer. Remember we want to help you maintain good vision for many summers to come.
1. Wear Sunglasses with Complete Ultraviolet Protection. You already know that you should protect your skin from ultraviolet radiation (UVR). But our eyes need similar protection, too. UVR comes form the sun and may also be reflected off surfaces such as water or sand.
Sunglasses are key but must offer 100% protection against both UVA and UVB rays. There are many choices of sunglasses that provide this protection and they don’t have to be expensive. Why is this important?: Too much exposure to UVR can cause photokeratitis or photo conjunctivitis (also known as “snow blindness”) in the short-term. Continual exposure may also cause cataracts, pterygium (a non-cancerous growth over the cornea) or skin cancer of the eyelids.

2. Use Goggles at the Pool. While swimming in a pool is a great way to cool off and get exercise, the chlorine in the water can feel awful on your eyes. The chlorine is designed to protect you from exposure to germs but can also hurt your eyes. Protect your eyes by wearing goggles and also consider wearing them if you swim the ocean or other natural bodies of water because they may contain other contaminants that may hurt your eyes. Why is this important?: Studies have shown that frequent exposure to chlorine negatively affects the integrity of your corneal epithelium. The epithelium protects the cornea from irritants and pathogens and if it is compromised you may have an increased likelihood of corneal abrasion or other eye injuries.

3. Wash Hands and Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes. The best way to protect yourself from the spread of communicable disease is to wash your hands regularly. Doing this helps 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. Why is this important?: You should 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. Even if you wear sunglasses every time you go outside, you are not offering complete UVR protection to your eyes and eyelids. The gaps found along the sides of sunglasses still offer exposure to UVR. Wear a hat with a brim at least 3 inches wide to provide additional protection. Besides a sunglasses-hat combo can look very cool! Why is this important?: Basil cell carcinoma is a form of skin cancer that typically affects the eyelids. While it more commonly occurs on the lower eyelid, it can also develop in the corners of the eye or under the eyebrow. While BCC does not usually spread to other parts of the body, it can certainly spread to the eye itself.

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 op hear your eyes; spray paint that blows back into your face; or slashing cleaning solutions. If you are working with any kind of toxic chemicals wear protective goggles or other protective eyewear and take care to handle solutions delicately, so that they do not splash. Why is this important?: Chemical exposure that caused eye-related chemical burns represent a serious ocular emergency that can ultimately cause serious damage or blindness. Don’t become a victim if you can avoid it!

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. So it is never too early to start with your children. The World Healthy Organization notes that as much as 80% of a person’s lifetime UVR exposure occurs prior to the age of 18! That is because children spend lots of time playing outdoors especially during the summer. Children should also wear sunglasses and hats and it is also good to apply sunscreen, especially on their faces. Why is this important?: A child’s ocular lenses do not filter out UV light as efficiently as an adult’s. This means children can sustain eye damage more readily.

7. Wear Eye Protection During Outdoor Activities. Dust or sand in your eye is also an environmental threat to your eyes. Foreign bodies like them can cause abrasions to the eye and the cornea of the eye. Most corneal injuries heal in a day or two without too much pain or difficult. But if the abrasion involves woodworking or yardwork, there is a greater risk of long-term injury. Look to prevention first by using safety glasses or other protective equipment to shield your face and eyes from potential damage. Even the condition of dry eyes can increase your risk of corneal abrasion. Why is this important?: Eye injuries must be treated quickly to avoid the minimum amount of eye damage.

8. Eat Healthy and Drink Plenty of Water. Did you know that what you eat has the power to affect how well you see? Many food are rich in nutrients that could 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 Vitamins C and E and zinc can assist those with symptoms of age-related macular degeneration. During the summer, people are more likely to become dehydrated which can affect their eyes. Why is this important?: 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. Nutrient-rich foods that are also tasty can be added easily to everyone’s diet.

9. Use Eye Drops. Sometimes you need to use some kind of eye drops to minimize pain or manage other eye problems. This can happen after certain kinds of eye surgeries and other eye procedures. If you have allergies that make your eyes feel tired or excessively try, you may also benefit from eye drops. Why is this important?: Check with your eye doctor if your symptoms don’t go away after using eye drops as this may be a sign of something more serious.

10. Get Adequate Sleep. Even with a busy lifestyle, you need to know that your eyes are counting on you to be rested! Rested eyes are important so that you don’t suffer decreased cognition on visual tasks such as driving safely, attending to potentially dangerous activities like cooking or caring for children. When you are tired, you eyes are more likely to feel dry which encourages you to rub them and can increase the likelihood of exposure to irritants and diseases. Why is this important?: 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!

If you want to read the unabridged version of this article go to http://www.goodeyes.com/blog/10-ways-to-protect-your-eyes-this-summer/.

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