With summer days in full swing, most of us use sunscreen to protect our skin, but what do we use for our eyes? Here’s a few summer eye care questions answered!
Do I Need to Wear Goggles in the Pool?
Goggles help to protect your eyes and your tear film from chemicals that may irritate or harm your eyes, like chlorine. If you wear contact lenses be sure to discard them after swimming or pool activities. Bacteria may be harbored on lenses creating risks for infections.
Do I Need to Wear Sunglasses Even in Cloudy Weather?
Absolutely. Clouds do not completely block the sun’s rays, so you are still at risk for UV exposure and sunburns. While sunlight might be most intense mid-day, remember that your eyes are especially vulnerable to harmful UV light at dawn and dusk because of the direct angle of incoming light; it is important to wear sunglasses as much as possible, no matter the time of day or weather. Note that water, sand and snow can reflect sunlight back towards your eyes as well, so sunglasses will protect your eyes even if you are wearing a hat. The higher your altitude, the more exposed you are to UV light, too.
Do I Have to Wear Sunglasses if I Wear Contact Lenses?
There are brands of contact lenses with built-in UV protection. Its important to know that contact lenses only cover the center of the eye and not the surrounding areas, such as the conjunctiva or eyelids. It is always best to wear sunglasses. Depending on your environment, wearing contact lenses for too long outdoors may irritate your eyes more than usual, especially if you are in a dry, hot, and/or windy area.
Is it Possible to “Sunburn” My Eyes?
Eyes can be “sunburned” in a condition called photokeratitis. This condition commonly leads to urgent medical visits because of severe eye pain and an abrupt onset of symptoms. Luckily, it is typically self-limiting and resolves without permanent blindness, but any significant eye problem should always be evaluated by an eye doctor to properly diagnose and treat the issue.
Is There a Recommended UV Protection Level for Sunglasses?
Sunlight that reaches Earth’s surface is made up of two types of harmful rays: UV-A and UV-B. You should choose sunglasses that provide 100% protection against both UVA and UVB radiation. You may also see the designation UV 400, which blocks light under 400 nanometers (including UVA and UVB). Polarized sunglasses may help reduce glare and reflections, especially if you spend a lot of time on the water.
What Are Eye Allergy Symptoms and How Do I treat Them?
Itching, swelling, redness, irritation, tearing, and blurry vision are all symptoms of eye allergies. If you know you have seasonal eye allergies and have been examined before, you can use over-the-counter, preservative-free, artificial tear eye drops found at most drug stores. Cool compresses are helpful to reduce swelling and the urge to itch. Some over-the-counter allergy medications exist, but you should always be examined by a professional first to determine the best way to treat your allergies.
Will Long Term Sun Exposure Harm My Eyes?
Absolutely. The most common eye problems related to sun exposure are cataracts and macular degeneration. While cataracts can be removed with surgery, macular degeneration is permanent and often quite debilitating. In addition, the skin around the eye is susceptible to skin cancer, so it is important to wear sun protection whenever possible. In contrast, even brief sun gazing can cause permanent vision impairment, so never look directly at the sun!
When Should I Be Wearing Protective Eyewear?
Always consider protective eyewear when you are working in an environment that puts you at risk for accidents or projectiles. Search for wrap-around eyewear that protects the eyes from the sides as well.
Should I Be Protecting My Eyes During Sports Activity?
I recommend protective eyewear for high-risk sports because of the potential for sight-threatening injuries or even concussions. Contact sports such as basketball are especially prone to eye injuries because of the nature of body movements.
When Should My Children Have Their Eyes Checked?
Of course. In Illinois, children are required to have an eye exam prior to their first year of school to ensure they have the vision they need to succeed in the classroom. Pediatric eye exams not only assess visual acuity, but also evaluate binocular vision skills and eye health to make sure your child is able to manage the increasing visual demands of each academic year.
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