Summer is a great time to get outside and have fun in the sun. Whether you’re heading out for vacations, camp outs, family adventures, or just lounging by the pool this summer, don’t forget to take care of your eyes. Here are six dos and don’ts for keeping your eyes healthy during the long, lazy days of summer.
1. Do wear sunglasses
Sunglasses aren’t just for looking cool. Quality shades also protect your eyes. When you buy sunglasses, check that they provide 100 percent UV protection with both UVA and UVB rays. These UV rays can penetrate the cornea and damage your lens and retina, which can to increased risks for cataract and macular degeneration. The color and darkness of the lenses of your sunglasses doesn’t matter as much as the ability to block UV light. If you’re active, also consider getting sunglasses with polycarbonate lenses.
2. Do wear protective eyewear
Before you head out onto the baseball field or tennis court, get some protective eyewear. According to the non-profit advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide, in 2013, more than 1.24 million children ages 19 and under were seen in emergency departments for injuries related to 14 commonly played sports. Many eye injuries are completely preventable simply by wearing eye protection. Check to be sure that the eyewear you purchase meets the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) guidelines and those for the sport as well.
3. Do wear sunscreen
Sunburn and skin cancer can happen anywhere skin is exposed, even around your eyes or on your eyelids. Many people keep sunscreen away from their eyes because they’re worried about irritation, but you still need to protect those sensitive areas. Look for a sunscreen formula that is made specifically for use on your face with an SPF of 30 or more.
4. Do wear swim goggles
Even if water looks clean, odds are good it’s not as clean as you might hope. The water in swimming pools, lakes, and oceans is far from sterile and can lead to eye infections or irritations. Wearing goggles while you swim is an easy way to avoid these issues.
5. Don’t swim with contacts
Leaving your contacts in while you go swimming is generally considered a bad idea because they can fall out or dry out in salty sea water. Lake water also can contain bacteria, which can grow on your contacts. Fortunately, you have other options. If you want to be able to see while swimming, you can get prescription goggles. Or if you only take short dips in the lake or pool, you might consider trying out single-use contacts. Because you use a new pair every day, you don’t have to worry about your contacts drying out or bacteria building up on them.
6. Don’t rub your eyes
Mom was right: when you get something in your eye, avoid rubbing it. At the beach, getting sand in your eye can scratch your cornea and rubbing your eye can make the problem worse. Out in the woods, you should avoid touching poison ivy, sumac, or oak, not just because the itchy rash is unpleasant. If you touch your eyes, you can get the plant oils in your eyes and cause serious irritation. Instead of rubbing, wash your hands and rinse your eyes thoroughly with fresh water. If the problem persists or gets worse, call your eye doctor.
Stay safe this summer
If you have suffered an eye injury or irritation, please contact Dr. Silverman and the OCLI team. Even if you just have questions or need more advice about eye health or safety, don’t hesitate to give us a call!