How Can I Protect My Eyes in the Summer?
Did you know that spending more time outside during the summer can take a toll on your eyesight? Here are some tips on summertime eye protection and how to prevent dry eyes.
Why Is Sun Protection Important?
The sun has UV light or ultraviolet light, which can damage structures in the eye. Sunlight exposure contributes to the formation of cataracts and the development of macular degeneration. The most effective and common way to protect your eyes is to wear sunglasses whenever you’re outside or in a car. But not all sunglasses are created equal, so how can you know you’re picking the right sunglasses?
Expensive sunglasses aren’t necessarily better than cheaper sunglasses. What you want to look for is the 100% UV protection label. This is the most important determining factor when choosing sunglasses. Wearing UV protection for your eyes is equivalent to wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen for your skin.
If you wear prescription contacts or prescription glasses, you may be wondering how you can protect your eyes while still seeing. Good news! There are several options for people who require vision correction.
- Contact lenses now offer UV protection. When getting your next set of contacts, ask about those that include UV protection. Since these contacts are placed directly on the eye, they can block all UV light, while sunglasses allow UV light to enter from the sides of the frames.
- Prescription eyeglasses can also include UV protection upon request. Thinner and lighter than plastic, a lens material called polycarbonate can provide the same UV protection that you’d get in sunglasses. You could also consider requesting transitional lenses, which transition from clear to dark when you are outside and provide the same protection as sunglasses. If you already have glasses that don’t offer UV protection and you’re not due for an upgrade, you could invest in a pair of prescription sunglasses until it is time to get a new pair.
Eye Protection in the Water
As for swimming at the pool or the beach, remove your contact lenses before entering the water. There are bacteria and pathogens inside the water that can get onto the contact lens and get into your eyes, causing eye infections.
Preventing Dry Eyes
Although we should enjoy summer outdoors, many people still spend a lot of time on computers or phones during the day, which is a significant contributor to having dry eyes. Dry eyes are not only uncomfortable, but dry eyes can potentially cause damage to the eye. Here’s a simple tip:
Follow the 20-20-20 rule:
- Look away from computer and phone screens every 20 minutes.
- Look at something that is at least 20 feet away and do this for about 20 seconds. This will allow your eyes to relax.
- Make sure you blink!
If you have frequent issues with dry eyes, eye drops can help as well. If you suffer from frequent dry eyes even when you’re not looking at electronics, something else could be the cause. Address your concerns with your eye doctor.
Learn more about Danny Tran, OD and Ophthalmology and Optometry services at Ochsner Health.