Making the most of the summer here in the Pacific Northwest and soaking up all of the sun is essential. After all, fall’s foggy mornings will return way too soon!
But as you soak up the summer sun, it’s important to cautious to protect your vision and eyesight. July is UV Safety Month, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Keep reading to learn how to keep your eyes safe and enjoy yourself this summer during UV Safety Month!
How Sunlight Can Hurt Your Eyes
It’s more than you squinting against the glare. Sunlight has ultraviolet light, and although it’s only ten percent of sunlight, this light does the most damage to your health.
UV light is what creates summer suntans and sunburns when you overdo exposure to the sun. While you feel a sunburn on your skin, you won’t feel the damage UV does to your eyes until it’s too late.
When your skin darkens in the sun, that’s the body’s natural defense system trying to protect you from UV. UV can damage the eye’s surface tissues as well as the cornea and lens.
With repeated exposure over a lifetime, the damage can lead to serious eye conditions. Prevent vision loss with these simple actions.
Wear Sunglasses and Hats Outside
Start this habit as early as possible. If you have children, make sure they wear broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses.
Even if this wasn’t a habit growing up, you can still shield your eyes with broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses and stop further damage to your eyes. Everyone at every age should make this sort of eye protection a daily habit.
Choose UV-Blocking Sunglasses
All sunglasses are not made the same! Always buy sunglasses labeled UV400 or state they have one hundred percent UV protection.
Watch Out for These Higher-Risk Conditions
Certain medications, drugs, and conditions cause increased photosensitivity. Take extra care if you use Retin-A skin cream or antibiotics.
You are more vulnerable to UV damage if you have light-colored eyes like blue, hazel, or green.
Effects of UV radiation
Cataracts and Eye Cancers
UV radiation can cause cataracts and eye cancers to develop. Cataracts, the clouding of the eye’s natural lens, often results from aging but can be worsened by sun exposure.
The most common cancer that starts in the eye is a form of melanoma. In the same way that melanoma affects the skin, ocular melanoma begins in the cells that make the pigment that gives your eyes color.
Growths on the eye are another concern. Two common conditions are pinguecula and pterygium, which are growths on your eye’s conjunctiva, the clear covering over the white part of the eye.
Pterygium, often called surfer’s eye, can show up in your teens or twenties. It also affects skiers, fishermen, farmers, and others who spend long hours under the midday sun or near rivers, oceans, and mountains.
Photokeratitis is similar to having a sunburned eye. It can be caused by sun reflection from sand, water, ice, and snow.
Tanning beds and lamps, arc welding, and staring into a solar eclipse without eye protection are other sources. Pain, redness, blurriness, and tearing are all symptoms.
While it usually goes away on its own, it’s your eyes’ way of telling you to wear protection.
Make Eye Safety Fun
While eye protection is serious business, you can also have fun. Buy one hundred percent UV protection sunglasses in a variety of styles to suit your mood and wardrobe.
You can do the same thing with hats, caps, and visors. Just make sure the brim is wide enough to shade your eyes.
Keep hats and sunglasses by the front door, so you’ll wear them each and every time you go out. With these simple practices, you’ll win at UV Safety Month!
Do you want to learn more about protecting your eyes from the sun? Schedule an appointment about EyeHealth Northwest in Happy Valley, OR, today!