5 Ways to Protect Your Eyes in Summer.
Do you ever wonder why you squint? When you are outdoors, and itвЂ™s a beautiful sunshiney day, and you want to see it all, take it all in. And instead of your eyes being wide open in amazement and wonderment of the beauty of life, your eyes decide to squint it away. Do you ever stop to think why that is?
Hazards to your eyes are lurking around every corner, but WebMD has 5 essential ways to protect yourself against eye injury.
Flying grit from off-roading or yard work, chemicals in pools, a sun that sears delicate tissues — summer is an obstacle course for your precious eyes. You can still have fun, but you may need to take some steps to protect your peepers.
The reason you squint is because your body wants to protect your eyes from the sunвЂ™s brightness. Your body knows that too much light into your eyes, especially from the sun, will cause serious harm to your eyesight. So you squint to keep out as much light as possible (while still allowing you to see where you are going).
A lot of this is common sense, which, sadly, is not always so common.
Take it from an emergency room doctor. Eyewise, he has seen it all. Here are some top recommendations from several experts.
1. Wear Sun Protection.
But the one thing the body doesnвЂ™t know is that the Ultra-violet rays from the sun can cause serious damage to your eyes. If you look at an eclipse of the sun, you wonвЂ™t squint, but of course the sunвЂ™s UV rays can cause blindness, and thatвЂ™s why you are warned not to look directly at an eclipse; because you are looking directly at the sun.
“A lot of people come to the ER with burned corneas each summer,” Richard O’Brien, MD, an emergency physician with the Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, Penn., tells WebMD.
“We have a lot of NASCAR up here. You’d be amazed how many people go to that, a concert, or other all-day event without wearing a visor cap and sunglasses. They even lie on their shiny RVs — that is like being in a tanning booth.
To avoid squinting when you are outside, you need sunglasses. Even the cheapest pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes from the bright sunlight. But keeping out sunlight is not all sunglasses should do; they also need to guard against the UV rays of the sun.
“They are fine at first, then go home, go to sleep, and wake up in an hour in excruciating pain. I have had people come in here crying.”
The sun, of course, shoots out rays of different lengths. The most damaging are the ultraviolet rays, which are classified as UVA and UVB.
“Most decent sunglasses,” Richard Bensinger, MD, an ophthalmologist in private practice in Seattle, tells WebMD, “protect against UVB. If they also protect against UVA, it should say so on them.”
So you need to have the ultimate protection against the sunвЂ™s dangerous rays, and to do that, you need sunglasses that offer 100% protection against UV rays. And you should wear them whenever you are outside in the sun, even in wintertime and on cloudy days.
Sunglasses may be one thing you don’t want to get at the Dollar Store, O’Brien observes. They should be close to the face or wraparound. Some people like dark tints, but the UV-blocking coating is the same on any color. Polarized lenses may be more comfortable for workers outside because they block glare.
Too much ultraviolet can accelerate the formation of cataractscataracts, Bensinger adds.
I just saw a study just today on how skin cancer rates are increasing at an alarming rate. The American Cancer Society estimates over a million new cases of skin cancer will appear in the US this year. One important reason is because of over-exposure of oneвЂ™s skin to the sun. The UV rays that can cause melanoma skin cancer are the same rays that can cause eye disorders such as cataracts that can lead to blindness. Therefore it is as prudent to use sunglasses for protection against the sun, as it is to use sunscreen.
“There are very solid studies that show this; people who stayed in the sun tended to get cataracts eight to 10 years before a carefully selected group that was mostly in the shade or indoors.”
The hat-sunglasses combo should also be worn at the beach, amusement parks, bike rides, boating, or anyplace where there is prolonged sun exposure, O’Brien cautions.
And don’t forget the little ones — they need the same.
2. Wear Serious Eye Protection While Doing Home Projects.
If you get a good pair of sunglasses, with maximum protection against UV rays and glare, that are large enough to protect the sides of your eyes.as well as the front, you will no longer need to squint. And many makers of sunglasses today also fill the need to have them feel comfortable, allow images to be sharp and clear, to be durable against shock, and of course to look stylish… [read more]
How often do you see Dad weed whacking or mowing and little Junior playing nearby? Both should be wearing eye protection. “Dad is behind the mower and high up,” explains Bensinger. “A flying rock could hit him but more likely will go sideways and hit someone lower to the ground nearby.”
By eye protection, this does not mean reading or sunglasses, O’Brien emphasizes. “This means professional quality goggles from a home supply store.
SummerвЂ™s here and the beach beckons. YouвЂ™ve detoxed, body brushed and moisturized your skin in excited anticipation. You plan your summer getaways and outdoor adventures, pull out your summer clothes, buy lots of sunscreen and slap it on ever so often. But this isnвЂ™t where safety ends this summer. It is the potentially harmful Ultra Violet (UV) rays of the sun that you need to watch out for, which can damage the long-term health of your eyes (laboratory studies have shown UV radiation as a causal factor for cataract) and the delicate skin surrounding them.
I have seen corneal lacerations come into the ER from yard work. We’re talking surgery to fix these.”
“Chopping wood, hammering nails, sawdust, anything that can fly around,” Bensinger advises people to “wear protection.”
What if you do take a hit in the eye? “The first determinant is vision, pain is secondary,” Bensinger says. “If your vision is not affected, put some ice on it (unless it’s a penetrating injury like a BB).”
3. Protecting Eyes During Sports.
UV radiation can play a contributory role in the development of various ocular disorder, including age-related cataract, pterygium, cancer of skin around eyelids and photokeratitis. In fact, the eye may be at a greater risk from the sun than the skin. The skin has the capacity to adapt to UV radiation by producing melanin (tan) that protects against UV exposure. The eye does not develop a tolerance to UV rays, but becomes more sensitive with repeated exposure, and the effect on the eye is cumulative. It is important to note that reflective UV light, or glare from water, sand, snow and even the road can also have a debilitating effect on the eye. And even on cloudy days, up to 80 per cent of UV rays can pass through. So, the importance of protecting your eyes from UV exposure should not be overlooked, whatever the weather.
“The bigger the ball, the less likely an eye injury,” Bensinger notes. “Basketball is unlikely to injure eyes. But baseballs and softballs can [and so can] golf balls, squash, and handballs.”
According to the U.S. Eye Injury Registry, 5% of all eye injuries result from baseballs.
In Malaysia, where badminton is the national sport, Bensinger says, there are many eye injuries from the weighted and feathered shuttlecock.
When playing most ball sports, eye protection is warranted, the doctors say. “The objection will be that protection is encumbering,” Bensinger says, “but hockey goalies said that at first, too, about their facemasks.” Most sporting goods stores sell plastic, molded shields or masks appropriate for different sports.
The natural reaction of the eye when exposed to direct or reflective light is to squint, as it tries to block out the glare, which is at best uncomfortable, and at worst squinting not only causes eye fatigue but also encourages the development of unsightly facial fine lines and wrinkles. Not particularly eye-catching!
“Paintball,” remembers Bensinger, “that’s another bad one for eyes. Commercial places make you wear eye protection, but some people run out in the backyard and start shooting [without it].”
4. Avoid or Protect Against Chemicals.
You can jump in a pool and if your eyes sting, it may mean the chemicals aren’t balanced. “This is more of a comfort issue,” Bensinger says. “Rarely will it affect your vision.”
Other cosmetic UV damage to the skin around eyes, otherwise known as вЂњphoto ageingвЂќ, manifests itself as dryness, sagging or loss of elasticity and mottled pigmentation. More seriously, the WHO estimates that 20 per cent of cataracts are primarily due to sun damage, and excessive UV exposure has resulted in the development of skin cancers, of which 10 per cent occur on the eyelids.
O’Brien goes farther. “If it hurts, get out!” he cries. “I don’t care how much you paid, there is no vacation worth messing with your eyes.” Rinse immediately with clean water, even if you have to buy a bottle. “Then,” he adds, “do not go back in.” If the stinging persists for hours, you should get a doctor to take a look.
To soothe irritated eyes, use artificial tears, not antiredness drops.
Hence appropriate eyewear and hats are not just fashion accessories but are essential. It is important to ensure that one invests good quality eyewear that blocks 100 per cent UV radiation. People who wear prescription glasses need not fret. They do not have to alternate between prescription glasses and sunglasses as they move around. Today, the market has photrochromic lenses (variable tint) which automatically adjust to the level of UV light they are exposed to, going from exceptionally clear indoors to sunglass dark outdoors.
O’Brien also warns against poison ivy, oak, and sumac. It’s very bad when that gets into eyes. “You have a few moments to wash it off,” he says. He also tells a story of how the irritating oil in these poison plants can stay on clothes for years. “I used to have firefighters come in with poison ivy,” he recalls. “One day, one would have it, later a different one. Turns out, one of their turnout coats had been contaminated with poison ivy, and different ones were grabbing it.”
O’Brien also warns against insect bites around the eye. “These are nasty,” he says. “You don’t want to put repellent in your eye, though.”
The UV rays blocking eyeglasses provide the most complete and convenient eyewear to shield the eye from the harmful effects of the UV rays of the sun. While most prescription lenses offer some UV ray protection, not all are equally effective.
Bensinger also says you don’t want to wear your contacts in the pool. “The surface tension holding them in will be washed away by water,” he says, “They find a lot of contacts in pool drains.”
Infection can also get started from untreated lake or pond water getting under the lens. “Likely that would wash out if you had no contact in there,” Bensinger says.
Use plastic photochromic lenses that block 100 per cent UV radiation and enhance visual comfort by preventing eye fatigue by reducing glare. Plastic photochromic lenses optimize visual clarity by allowing just the right amount of light to reach the eye. These lenses transition from clear to dark quickly when you move form indoor to outdoor and fade back just as fast when you move indoors from outdoors… [read more]
5. Protect Against Oddball Events.
If you think summer is one big eye accident waiting to happen, you might be right. Consider these other threats:
- Pellet or dart guns. Yes, kids still get these and wield them. They should have protective eyewear. Actually, O’Brien notes, kids are less supervised in summer and may get into older kids’ toys. Another tricky game? Archery.
- Fireworks. Even professionals make mistakes with these, but leave it to them, anyway, O’Brien says. No matter how often this warning goes out, 8,500 people get hurt by fireworks each year in the U.S. According to the American Academy of Ophthamology, 2,000 of these are eye injuries with one-third of the eye injuries resulting in permanent eye damage.
- Injury to LASIKed eyes. Postsurgery patients need to be extra careful in general.
- Snapping bungee cords from tying down luggage. These can lash out at 50 mph!
- Battery acid from improperly jumped auto batteries. Keep goggles in the trunk. Steam from spewing radiators could also injure eyes.
“What’s the best thing you can do for your eyes in summer?” Bensinger jokes. “Take them with you to Hawaii.”
Just don’t forget those shades, activity-appropriate eyewear, and that common sense.
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