Everyone knows the importance of using sunscreen, but did you know that your eyes can also experience sun damage? Whether you’re enjoying time at the beach or a family barbecue this summer, everyone should protect their eyes from the sun’s UV rays.

With the arrival of warmer weather, it’s natural to spend more time outside. What do you generally do to protect your eyes? Do you wear sunglasses regularly whenever you’re outside or do you always put on your favorite hat? Do you sit under an umbrella while at the beach? There are several important ways to protect your eyes, in addition to choosing the right sunglasses.

Keep reading for some tips on how to properly protect your eyes during the summer months!

Finding the Right Fit

Have you ever been overwhelmed when trying to pick out a pair of sunglasses? There are so many different styles and colors that can sway your decision to one pair over another, but there are other things to consider when choosing the perfect sunglasses.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests the following tips for buying sunglasses:

  • Make it 100%: Pay attention to labels and choose sunglasses that clearly state the lenses block 99 to 100% of UV-A and UV-B rays.

  • The bigger the better: Over-sized glasses can provide more coverage, resulting in less damage to the eyes, especially UV rays entering from the side.

  • Darker and colored lenses don’t protect better: Dark lenses do not work better nor do they block more UV rays than lighter or colored lenses.
  • Polarized lenses do not offer more protection: Polarization reduces glare but does not offer more sun protection.

  • Be cost effective: If sunglasses are labeled at 100% UV blocking, less expensive glasses can be just as effective as the pricier options.

Children’s eyes are also susceptible to the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays. In fact, young eyes do not have the same ability to protect from UV rays as adult eyes do. Children’s sunglasses should block 99 to 100% of UV rays. When choosing sunglasses for children, consider the following tips:

  • Sunglasses should fit well and not be damaged
  • Sunglasses should fit your child’s lifestyle – impact resistant and stable
  • Lenses should be large enough to shield the eyes from most angles
  • Wear a hat in addition to sunglasses to provide extra protection

When the weather is hot, dry or windy, it can also cause dry eye. This type of environment, typically found in the summer, can affect the tear film, which dries out the eye’s surface. To protect your eyes, wear over-sized wrap-around glasses to keep the wind from your eye’s surface and use artificial tears and eye drops to keep eyes moist and refreshed.

Swimming with Lenses

The sun isn’t the only thing that can affect your eyes this summer. If you’re not properly protecting your eyes, the pool can also be a dangerous place. Chemicals that keep the water clean, like chlorine, are necessary for maintaining your pool, but they can also affect the tear film. The natural tear film keeps our eyes healthy, but if affected by the pool chemicals can result in red, blurry eyes. To prevent this, wear appropriate swim goggles and splash your eyes with fresh water immediately after leaving the pool.

If you’re living with keratoconus and are constantly wearing contact lenses, swimming with lenses can result

in serious issues such as infection, irritation, and corneal ulcer. Also, it is very likely that a contact lens could pop out of your eye if swimming unprotected. Before you go swimming, make sure you’re prepared and have access to swimming goggles that are leak-proof, anti-fog, and provide UVA and UVB protection.

With these tips in mind, you will be ready to safely enjoy the long summer days. Never underestimate the benefits of a good pair of sunglasses, goggles and a hat!

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