Summertime is here! Swimming, cookouts, outdoor concerts and festivals, and family get-togethers are all part of the fun of summer. Surprisingly, these activities include threats to your vision and eye health. Dr. Shofner offers these tips to help protect your eyes during these hot summer months.
- Protect your eyes from damage due to prolonged exposure to the sun. We remember to put on sunscreen and protect our skin from prolonged exposure to UVA and UVB rays that can lead to premature again and even skin cancer. Did you know, that you can also get a sunburn on your cornea? It’s called a corneal flash burn, or ultraviolet keratitis. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can cause this sunburn, as well as other concerns like pterygiums (additional “skin” growth on the eye). Dr. Shofner recommends wearing good quality sunglasses—specifically with polarized lenses, and if you are going to be outside for a long time, wearing a hat as well.
- Swimming is a key summertime activity but if your eyes hurt when you get in/out of a pool, it is likely that the chemicals are not properly balanced. Rinse your eyes with preservative free moisturizing drops, and if you do go back into the pool, wear a good pair of goggles that can protect your eyes from the unbalanced chemicals. If you are swimming in a lake, or the ocean, avoid wearing contact lenses. These waters are not clean and you run a higher risk of something getting stuck under your contact lens, and infecting your eyes. Again, swimming goggles can help here, but just take the contact lenses out before you swim!
- Beware of physical dangers to your eyes! Outdoor sports pick up in the summertime, with baseball, badminton, and tennis high on the list of things to do. Flying balls can hurt your eyes so wear protective gear, such as goggles, or at a minimum, good sunglasses. And think before you set out to mow the grass, or swing a hammer for that honey-do project you are finally getting around to. Debris slung out by a mower moves really fast – often too fast to see before you are hit by it. Wood chips, or mulch have sent many a person to the E.R. to remove the smallest of chip that has imbedded itself in the cornea.
- Leave the fireworks to the professionals! Despite strong warnings every year, the American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that 8,500 people get hurt by fireworks every year, and 2,000 of those are eye injuries. Of the 2,000 eye injuries each year, one-third results in permanent eye damage.
Have fun this summer, but remember to protect your eyes along the way! Invest in polarized sunglasses that will keep the UVA and UVB rays at bay, protect your eyes from flying objects, and rinse your eyes with moisturizing drops as needed.