Summertime Tips for Eye Care and Safety

I know it is hard to believe that summer is just a couple of weeks away. However, it is a lot closer than you think! Therefore, we thought we would offer up some tips to maintain the health of your eyes over the summer.

The first and most important is to wear protective eyewear for any outdoor activities or tasks that involve potential exposure to toxic chemicals or the sun. Be sure to share these tips with your friends and family, most important – with your children.

1. Wear Eye Protection For Outdoor Activities

Protect yourself from dust and sand, and any other foreign bodies that the cool summer breeze may carry. You should try to protect yourself, as much as practically possible, from contact with foreign bodies that can cause abrasions to your eye.

Most corneal injuries heal in a day or two without too much pain or difficulty. However, some environments, such as playing volleyball on the beach or doing yard work, present a higher risk of a possible injury. Always look to prevention first, through the use of glasses, sunglasses, or other personal protective equipment to shield your face and eyes.

Medical Alert: If you already suffer from chronic dry eyes, you are at an increased risk of corneal abrasion. Visit Dedham Ophthalmic Consultants or take the DRY EYE QUIZ now to see if you suffer from chronic dry eye.

2. Wear Sunglasses with Ultraviolet Protection

It is pretty obvious, sunglasses are the NUMBER ONE source for effective eye protection against the sun. We protect our skin from the harmful ultraviolet radiation (UVR), so why not the eyes too?

The BEST way to protect your eyes from UVR exposure is to purchase and consistently wear sunglasses with 100-percent protection against both UVA and UVB rays. There are several inexpensive brands of sunglasses that offer this protection, offering a wide variety to choose. You should also wear sunglasses on overcast days as the UVB rays can still penetrate the clouds.

Medical Alert: Too much exposure to UVR can cause photokeratitis or photo conjunctivitis (more commonly known as “snow blindness”) in the long-term. Continual UVR exposure, to UVB rays, may cause cataracts, pterygium (a non-cancerous growth over the cornea) or skin cancer of the eyelids.

3. Wear Hats

Sunglasses do not offer complete UVR protection to your eyes and eyelids. For optimal protection, while you wear your sunglasses, minimize your risk and add a hat with a brim at least 3 inches wide. Consistent use of hats and sunglasses will significantly decrease your UVR exposure.

Medical Alert: According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, Basel Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is a form of skin cancer that typically affects the eyelids. While it most commonly occurs on the lower eyelid, 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.

4. Use Goggles When Swimming

If you have not gone swimming in a few months, the first dip into the ocean or pool can feel awful on your eyes. The saltwater and/or chlorine has the potential to hurt your eyes. Pools contain products to kill bacteria, while the ocean – and other natural bodies of water, contain other environmental contaminants that may harm your eyes. The simplest solution for protection is to wear goggles every time you go for a swim.

Medical Alert: Studies have 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.

5. Keep Children Safe – Especially Around the Fireworks

It is never too early to start good habits with your children. The World Health Organization notes that as much as 80 percent of a person’s lifetime UVR exposure occurs prior to the age of 18. Children are far more likely to spend time playing outside, particularly during the warmer months. Apply regular sunscreen, particularly on your child’s face. Add a hat with a wide brim and comfortable sunglasses, and your children will enter into adulthood with healthier and happier eyes.

The Medical Details: A child’s ocular lens does not filter out UV light as efficiently as an adult’s. This means that children can sustain eye damage more readily.

6. Eat Healthy and Drink Plenty of Water

It is not just the consumption of eating carrots that help your eyes. There are many foods rich in nutrients that improve your eyesight and help prevent the development of long-term vision problems. A diet with foods that are high in Vitamin C, Vitamin E and zinc can assist those with symptoms of age-related macular degeneration; they help slow or prevent the progression of symptoms.

Additionally, during the summer, people are more likely to become dehydrated, which can affect their eyes. 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.

7. Get Adequate Sleep

Although you know how important it is to get a good night’s rest, you may find it hard to get the sleep you need, particularly with a busy lifestyle. However, your eyes are counting on you to be rested.

The longer you stay awake, the more you increase the risk of suffering decreased cognition on visual tasks. This might not seem like a big problem until you realize that you need visual acuity to drive safely or attend to potentially dangerous activities like cooking or caring for children. Additionally, when you are tired, your eyes are more likely to feel dry. This encourages you to rub your eyes to stimulate the lacrimal gland, which increases the likelihood of exposure to irritants and diseases. The best way you can keep yourself alert and safe is to aim for a full night of sleep every night.

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. Meanwhile, feel free to contact DEDHAM OPHTHALMIC CONSULTANTS for your pre-summer eye evaluation.

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