Summer has arrived, and it’s a good time for a reminder to protect ourselves from the sun’s damaging rays. This includes our eyes.
Exposure to the sunlight can cause eye damage, which includes the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, growths on the eyes and cancer. Luckily, there are simple ways to keep our eyes safe.
- Wear sunglasses. They will filter the light and protect your eyes from UV rays. Be sure to select sunglasses that wrap around to shield your eyes from sunlight that reflects from many angles. Sunglasses also should be labeled UV400 or block 100% of UV-A and UV-B rays.
- Hats on: Brimmed hats offer the most coverage.
- Beware of cloudy skies and cool breezes. UV light can pass through haze and clouds, and cool breezes trick us into thinking the sun isn’t as strong.
Children often are overlooked when it comes to eye protection. Children’s eyes transmit more UVA rays to the retina. Parents lather them up with sunscreen but most neglect to have them wear sunglasses. Research indicates that 74% of parents make their children wear sunscreen, while only 32% make them wear UV-protected sunglasses.
People taking certain medications also need to be careful. For example, those who take birth control pills, diuretics, tetracycline, sulfa drugs and tranquilizers can experience increased sensitivity to light.
Activities on water and even sand put your eyes at risk from the reflective rays of the sun. Staying out of the sun during the peak hours of 10am to 3pm, when rays are most intense, can reduce the risk of eye damage.
Remember: Even though summer is a good time for a reminder to be smart about sun protection, damage can occur any time during the year. The best way to protect yourself from the damaging effects of the sun is to limit your exposure.