As promised, we here at Visual Eyes Optometrists (serving the fine people of Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax) are pleased to post our first educational eye care-related blog post here on our new blog. Today’s work provides you valuable tips to take care of your vision during these long summer days where your exposure to sun risk is the highest it will be all year.
We’re now enjoying the longest days of the year and all the benefits of days with maximum sunshine. It’s the time when many of us attempt to make up for lost time and go out and enjoy the weather without abandon – hit the beach, dust off that home improvement project, maybe join a pickup basketball game. But please, take care of your eyes! Today’s blog post is intended to help you do just that.
“Summer activities pose a number of potential hazards to your vision. Your exposed higher levels of UV radiation which can increase your risk for developing certain conditions, including cataracts and cancerous growths. With more activity outdoors and around your home, you increase your risk for eye injuries.
Here are 10 Summer Eye Protection Tips to Reduce the Risk of Injury or Vision Loss
- Choose sunglasses with full UV protection: Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is much stronger in summer, and just because the lenses are dark doesn’t mean your eyes are protected from these damaging rays. Look for glasses labeled either UV400 or 100 percent UV protection, which means that the lenses will block the full spectrum of UVA and UVB rays.
- Pay attention to the lens style: Wraparound styles can provide better summer eye protection, since they cover your peripheral vision. And if you plan to be in situations where you could increase your risk for injury – such as taking a spike to the face during a game of beach volleyball with friends – choose shatter-proof polycarbonate lenses.
- Buy sunglasses from a reputable retailer: Some online sources will sell products that can be dangerous for your eyes. Do your research.
- Wear a hat as often as possible when outside: “This includes on cloudy days. Clouds don’t block all spectrums of UV light. Not only will this give your eyes some extra protection, it will also protect your scalp and face from sun damage.
- Always wear swim goggles: Goggles are necessary for both indoor and outdoor pools. Even in chlorinated pool water, some microorganisms may survive and cause an infection, and this infection risk increases in lakes and other non-chlorinated water areas, such as hot tubs. These communal areas may be teeming with bacteria, including acanthamoeba, which causes an intense infection that is difficult to treat.
- Don’t swim in contact lenses: “If you wear contact lenses, you’re more susceptible to infection, given that your eyes are more likely to get irritated.
- Choose the right eye protection for your sport: Depending on the sport, this might include goggles, a face guard or a helmet. The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) has developed protection standards for every sport. In addition, by supplementing any official standard with the tips above (wearing a hat, full UV sunglasses, etc.), you can increase your summer eye protection.
- Be careful when working around the house: From cutting the grass and gardening to woodworking or digging into a car project, summertime also means an increase in risk from hazardous chemicals or flying debris. When engaging in these or other similar activities, wear glasses, goggles or a face shield that features “ANSI Z87.1” on the lens or frame. This designation means that it has met the American National Standards Institute safety standard for protective eyewear.
- Avoid indoor tanning: Tanning beds can produce far greater UV levels than the sun, increasing your risk for both skin cancer and serious eye damage. If you do use a tanning bed, make sure to wear protective UV-blocking goggles, not sunglasses.
- Wash your hands frequently: “While this is important any time of the year to help prevent the spread of eye infections, in the summer, people are more active outside. This makes it easier for infections to spread, including pink eye. So make sure to wash your hands regularly, and especially before you touch your eyes or put in your contacts.”
So, all ten suggestions are pretty simple to do, right? But as vision care professionals, we can’t emphasize strongly enough how valuable these actions are to help protect the priceless resource of good vision. We’ll add an 11th suggestion here. Be sure to have your eyes examined annually or as directed by your optometrist. You can call or schedule an eye exam in Alexandria, Arlington, or Fairfax with us anytime. Enjoy your summer!