Ways to Protect Your Eyes this Summer

Ways to Protect Your Eyes this Summer

 

The signs in the weather and sunlight are telling us of summer’s imminent approach. While summer is the season of backyard barbecues, swimming, and outdoor seating,

it also comes with dangerous UV rays from the sun. Sure, you put sunscreen on before spending a day at the pool, but do you ever think about the damage the sun can cause to your eyes? Probably not. Slapping on just any pair of sunglasses is not going to help protect your eyes from the sun. However, there is no need to fret. There are plenty of ways to protect your eyes this summer. Read our guide below to discover a new path to healthy eyes.


Damage the Sun Can Cause to Your Eyes


Have you ever taken a drive in a direction that put you face to face with the sun? Most of us have at some point. The burning you feel and brightness you see causes you to squint. Believe it or not, the sun is actually causing damage to your eyes. We’ve all heard about the importance of sunscreen to protect our skin, but most of us don’t give much thought to protecting our eyes. However, leaving your eyes exposed to the elements can have long-term consequences to your eye health.   


Over-exposure to the sun can lead to both long and short term eye damage. Photokeratitis and photo conjunctivitis are conditions that can occur after short term exposure to high levels of UV rays. Long term conditions resulting from prolonged sun exposure to eyes include cataracts, non cancerous growths, and skin cancer of the eyelids.


Wear Sunglasses


While this may sound like a no brainer, not just any pair of sunglasses will offer adequate eye protection. Like most people, you probably choose to buy sunglasses because they look good on you. However, the key is knowing what to look for when buying a pair of sunglasses. The first priority should be to make sure the sunglasses offer 100% UV protection. There are plenty of sunglasses which will provide the protection you need without compromising the look you want to achieve.


Use Goggles in the Pool


The sun isn't the only potential source of danger your eyes will endure this summer. Most people enjoy a dip in a cold pool on a hot day. Although this may feel good on your skin, the chemicals can wreak havoc on your eyes. In fact, long term exposure to chlorine, the chemical in pool water which kills bacteria, can lead to long term eye damage. The corneal epithelium is a thin layer which protects the eye from irritants and pathogens. If this layer is compromised, such as with long-term chlorine exposure, you will have an increased chance of corneal abrasion or eye injuries.


The most effective way to prevent eye injuries is to wear eye protection. However, the pool isn’t the only water source that can harm your eyes. Planning to go to the beach this year? If you plan to swim in the ocean, you will also want to wear goggles. This is because the salty water can dry out your eyes and make them more susceptible to bacteria. Even if you don’t plan to swim, the water and sand from the beach reflect the sun, increasing your exposure to harmful UV rays. The same goes for lakes and rivers. Basically, if you are immersing yourself in a body of water (except your bathtub, of course), then you should protect your eyes.


Wear a Wide-Brim Hat


Even if you are wearing 100% UV sunglasses, it is equally important to wear a wide brimmed hat. This is because sunglasses only provide partial protection. Eye wear only protects your eyes in the areas they are covered. This leaves delicate areas like your eyelids exposed to harmful UV rays. In fact, a form of skin cancer can actually form on the eyelid itself, so if you are wearing sunglasses and sunscreen to prevent harmful UV exposure, it’s time to add a hat to your summer duffel bag. Make sure you choose one at least 3 inches wide for maximum protection.


Protect Your Eyes Indoors


Going outdoors is not the only time to protect your eyes. There are measures you can take inside your home to maintain optimal eye health. One of the most important ways you can prevent bacteria from entering your eyes indoors is with frequent handwashing. Most people don’t realize the amount of germs they can harbor on their hands. This is especially true after shopping, cleaning, eating, and cooking. These are essential times to wash your hands after completing these type of tasks. Doing so will help prevent eye conditions, such as conjunctivitis and pink eye.


In addition to washing your hands, you should avoid touching or rubbing your eyes as much as possible. Even if your hands feel clean, they can still harbor traces of bacteria that can cause damage when exposed to your eyes. This is especially true when you touch an item someone else has previously handled. The bacteria on these type of objects is the primary cause of conjunctivitis.


Protect Your Eyes Outdoors


Lounging at the pool or spending a day at the beach are not the only times to wear eye protection. Basically, any type of outdoor activity can put your eyes at unnecessary risk of foreign contaminants.


Avoid Exposure to Chemicals


Depending on the line of work you are in, you may be exposed to a wide array of chemicals on a day to day basis. However, work is not the only place where dangerous chemicals reside. In fact, your house contains many harmful chemicals you are probably not even aware of. For example, soap bubbles, lotions and creams, bubble baths, and body wash can all be harmful if exposed to your eyes. Protection from chemicals, although often neglected, is vitally important to maintaining your eye health and preventing harmful chemicals that can cause blindness, in some cases.