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Tips for Keeping Your Eyes Healthy This Summer

Published in For the Health of It, Ophthalmology/Optometry Author: Jessica Wentzell,OD

Summer can be a dangerous time for eyes because we spend a lot of time outdoors when ultraviolet (UV) radiation is generally at its highest intensity.

If eyes are exposed to a large amount of UV radiation in a short period of time, they can get a "sunburn" to the cornea, the clear front part of the eye, called photokeratitis. This can result in red, painful, light-sensitive eyes with excessive tearing. Fortunately, this normally resolves quickly without causing permanent damage to the eyes.

When your eyes are exposed to long-term UV radiation, you are at increased risk for vision loss due to cataracts, macular degeneration and damage to the retina. Long-term exposure can also lead to skin cancer of the eyelids and pterygium, a growth on the white part of the eye.

Follow these tips for healthy eyes this summer and beyond.

  1. Never look directly at the sun. This can cause damage to the retina.
  2. Just like with sunscreen, always read the label on your sunglasses. Not all sunglasses are created equal. Look for 100 percent UV-blocking lenses.
  3. Large sunglasses or wrap around sunglasses offer more protection by preventing sunlight from entering from the top and sides of your glasses.
  4. Choose the correct eyewear for the occasion. For water sports wear goggles that fit tightly to your head. For yard work wear protective eyewear.
  5. Wear your sunglasses even on a cloudy day as UV radiation passes through the clouds.
  6. Children as young as infants should wear sunglasses when outdoors. If they will not tolerate wearing sunglasses, consider a wide brimmed hat or cap.
  7. See your eye care provider for regular eye exams to monitor the health of your eyes.

Protecting your eyes is just part of having a healthy and fun summer.