Summer is just around the corner, and you know what that means: More fun in the sun. But some of those fun activities and additional hours spent in the sunlight can put your eye health at risk.
Make eye care a priority with our top 10 ways to focus on eye health during the upcoming warmer months.
#1 Shield your eyes from the sun
That’s right: Wear sunglasses all the time. In fact, this tip is one you should follow even when it’s cloudy. That’s because UV rays can damage your eyes any time of the year. In the summer, you increase your risk of damage to your eyes when the sun’s rays reflect off water or sand.
Maximize your protection by choosing sunglasses that have 100% protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
#2 Don’t forget your hat
Sunglasses aren’t the only way to fend off those ultraviolet rays. Add a hat to increase protection of your eyeballs, eyelids, and to significantly decrease UV exposure. Look for a wide-brimmed hat to protect your eyes and the skin around your eyes.
Too much exposure to the sun can lead to a number of eye diseases and conditions, including cataracts, ocular melanoma, sunburned eyes, and (for adults who don’t get enough antioxidants in their diet), age-related macular degeneration.
#3 Go for goggles when swimming
Kids and adults alike should sport swim goggles any time you take a dip. Chlorine helps protect you from bacteria in the pool water, but it can irritate your eyes by washing away your protective tear film. The same goes for salt and other contaminants in the ocean.
Wearing goggles can help prevent swimmer’s eye, which is felt as stinging, burning, itchy or red eyes. Chemical or bacterial conjunctivitis can also result if you don’t wear protective eyewear in the water.
#4 Don’t wear your contacts in the pool
Contacts can trap bacteria, which then sit on your eyes, and could ultimately cause a corneal infection. This risk is exacerbated at the pool, lake, or ocean. If you’re serious about swimming, ask your eye doctor about prescription swim goggles.
#5 Wear protective eyewear for other activities
Whether you’re going for a bike ride, a hike or tackling a woodworking project in the garage, you should be sure to cover your eyes with the right kind of eyewear. Sports or safety glasses or goggles that are appropriate for your chosen activity can shield your eyes from dust, debris and the sun.
Make sure to select the right safety eyewear for the job or activity, that the glasses are in good condition with no cracks, and that they fit correctly and stay in place.
#6 Stay hydrated and keep eyes lubricated
Warmer temperatures and blooming plants can cause eyes to feel dry, irritated or watery. If you are prone to dry eyes or have allergies, use eye drops to lubricate eyes and help them flush out pollen and other contaminants. Staying on top of hydration also helps keep your eyes healthy.
Particularly if you wear contact lenses, keep them feeling comfortable by washing them thoroughly and replacing them on the schedule indicated by your eye doctor.
#7 Rest your eyes every 20 minutes when looking at a computer screen
If hot days keep you cooped up inside, make sure you (and your kids) are giving your eyes ample breaks from screen time. Overdoing screen use can cause eye strain, blurred vision, dry eye syndrome, and headaches.
#8 Eat those leafy greens
Good nutrition has been linked to good vision. The vitamins and antioxidants in leafy greens and other vegetables help guard your vision and offer the bonus of keeping you hydrated, too. Other good eats for your eyes include fatty fish and nuts (both rich in omega-3 fatty acids), citrus fruits, and legumes.
A balanced diet that offers a variety of nutrients can help you keep your blood sugar and weight at healthy levels, and help you avoid conditions and diseases that may lead to eye problems, including type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
#9 Wash your hands
Washing your hands regularly is the best way to avoid contracting eye-related contagious illnesses, such as conjunctivitis. These can develop after you touch a surface that has germs on it, then rub your eyes.
Always wash your hands before removing or putting in your contacts, too.
#10 Get enough sleep
Longer days can sometimes mean less sleep, and inadequate sleep can have a harder time concentrating on a variety of tasks, including those that require your visual attention (like driving). Tired eyes can also feel dry and irritated, and rubbing your eyes when you’re sleepy can introduce irritants or bacteria to your eyes.
One more tip: Schedule your eye doctor appointment this summer. Whether you need an eye exam or you have an eye issue you need to see a doctor about, don’t put it off any longer. Contact us for an appointment today.