(AscendHealthy.com) – With the sun shining and warm weather inviting us to get outdoors, most of us leap without hesitation. When it comes to outside activities and health, we generally remember to dress appropriately, hydrate and slather on sunscreen. But what about eye care? It may fall by the wayside for many of us, but it is a critically important aspect of summer health. Here are some key points to remember about summertime eye care.
How UV Rays Affect Eye Health
Eyes exposed to UV light can become temporarily distressed, a condition called photokeratitis. By neglecting to wear proper eye protection, our eyes can actually experience a sunburn, and the corneas can be affected. Getting too much sun can temporarily damage sensitive eye areas, including the eyelids and the tissue that covers the white of the eyes. Symptoms include:
- Eyelid twitching,
- Pain in the eye,
- Swelling, itching and redness, and
- Gritty sensation in the eye.
Photokeratitis is uncomfortable and should be diagnosed and treated by an eye care professional. Protecting our eyes at all times while we’re outside is important. Protection minimizes the risk of permanent complications like cataracts and macular degeneration.
It’s Not Just the Sun
Summer activities can also put eyes in danger. Being out on the water increases the reflection of UV rays and can damage the eyes quicker.
In pools, use extra care. Chemicals like chlorine can also be harmful to the eyes and cause swimmer’s eye — a condition that irritates and damages the eye’s natural tear film. Be sure to wear protective goggles if you’re going underwater.
At the beach, protective sunglasses can help reduce the risk of sand particles getting in the eyes. Protection against particulates is also important when mowing the grass or gardening. Grass clippings, pollen and weeds can become airborne and easily lodge in the eyes, causing redness and irritation.
Get an Exam
One of the best things we can do for our eyes is to set up an appointment with an optometrist. They will address any underlying conditions like dry eye (which tends to worsen in summer because tears evaporate quicker), and check for disease and eye damage. Preventative care is key, allowing us to address issues before they become permanent problems.
Protection and Prevention
Choosing the right sunglasses can make all the difference. Skip the trendy aviator sunglasses this summer. Even though they look cute, they may not have full UV protection, and we need that to block UVA and UVB rays. Sunglasses should also be polarized. Choosing a wrap-around style gives us added protection for peripheral vision. Forgot the shades? Wear a hat! Our eyes might not be quite as protected, but some protection is better than none.
If dry eye is a problem, talk to an optometrist about steps to reduce the problem during the summer months. It will generally mean using over-the-counter or prescription eye drops. Minimizing air conditioner use may also help.
Let’s not forget to wash our hands frequently, either. What does that have to do with our eyes? We touch objects and surfaces regularly before we often touch our eyes or faces, potentially transferring contaminants like dirt, hair and bacteria. These items could lead to eye infection and irritation.
From outdoor projects to lounging by the ocean, protecting our eyes is an essential safety goal we should all strive to achieve. It’s time to get out and enjoy life safely with vision in mind. The future of our summer vacations is so bright, we’ve got to wear shades! Our eyes will thank us.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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