Fun in the Sun: 5 Summertime Eye Health Tips

Woman wearing sunglasses and a hat

Long days and plenty of outdoor activities equal more time spent in the sun—particularly in Texas. While the dog days of summer may mean fall is not far away, it’s important to be mindful of your eyes’ unique needs long after Labor Day. Here are five easy tips to keep your eyes safe all summer long—and all year round.

Don’t Forget the Shades

Just like your skin, your eyes require special care when it comes to UV exposure, so don’t forgo the sunglasses—even on a cloudy day. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), “studies show that exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of developing cataracts and growths on the eye, including cancer.” Long-term exposure to sunlight can also increase the risk for certain conditions within the eye, such as solar retinopathy or choroidal melanoma. In addition, eyes can become “sunburned” which causes a painful condition known as photokeratitis.

To protect your eyes from sun exposure, be sure to wear sunglasses that provide 100% protection against both UV-A and UV-B rays, even when you think you don’t need them. A broad-brimmed hat can also help keep harmful sunlight away from your face and eyes.

Take the Contacts Out

Planning to hit the pool? If you wear contacts, swimming can pose a serious threat to your eyes without proper protection.

Like sponges, contact lenses absorb water—as well as any chemicals or bacteria that may be present, introducing germs to the eyes that can lead to discomfort, irritation, and potentially vision-threatening infections. In fact, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA), “serious eye infections can lead to blindness and affect up to one out of every 500 contact lens users per year.”

To keep your eyes safe, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends keeping contacts away from all types of water, including swimming pools, lakes, and even your own shower. If you must wear contacts in the water, consider no-leak swimming goggles—or better yet, invest in a prescription pair instead.

Play It Safe

Of course, swimming isn’t the only summer activity that requires eye protection. Whether you are finally getting around to those home improvement projects, playing sports, or just mowing the lawn, keeping your eyes safe should always be top of mind.

ANSI-approved protective eyewear is appropriate for most household projects. To prevent eye injuries on the court or in the field, check out the AAO’s recommendations for your sport.

Keep Them Refreshed

If you suffer from chronic dry eye, you know how uncomfortable the summer months can be. In addition to the heat outside and air conditioning inside, sweating, squinting, and even wearing sunscreen can irritate your eyes and make dry eye worse.

Keep your eyes comfortable by using artificial tears, wearing wraparound sunglasses outside that can block wind and dry air, and avoiding direct contact with fans or air conditioners.

Get a Checkup

Lastly, summer is the perfect time to get your kids’ eyes checked (and yours, too) before they return to school. Myopia (also known as nearsightedness) as a result of digital eye strain is on the rise, especially in children. According to the AOA, one in four parents have a child with myopia, making it one of the most increasingly prevalent vision issues in the U.S. Fortunately, these issues can be caught and managed with early intervention, like an annual eye exam.

Have questions about your eye health or need to schedule an appointment? We’re here to help! Contact us anytime at 800-252-8259 or [email protected]

Keep Your Eyes Safe This Fourth of July

Fireworks are a summertime staple, especially during the weeks before and after the Fourth of July, but the results of a homemade display can be harmful – and even potentially blinding. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s most recent fireworks injury report found that 14% of all fireworks injuries resulted in eye trauma. In addition, fireworks were responsible for eight deaths and nearly 13,000 total injuries in 2017. 

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), “fireworks can rupture the globe of the eye, cause chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions, and retinal detachment—all of which can cause permanent eye damage and vision loss.”

Don’t let your holiday celebration turn into a trip to the emergency room. Here is a short firework safety video you can watch with the kids, and five tips to keep everyone’s eyes safe this Independence Day:

  • Stand back: Be sure to light all fireworks in a clear, open area and watch from a safe distance—about 500 feet away for professional displays and 35–50 feet away when using fireworks at home. Protective eyewear is a must for both the person igniting the fireworks and the audience.
  • Keep clear: Avoid leaning over the top of or looking into any fireworks and never light a firework while holding it. Keep your body as far from the product as possible and once lit, move to a safe distance as quickly as possible.
  • Beware of duds: If a firework fails to explode, don’t assume it’s safe to handle. Never inspect or attempt to relight any firework that fails to ignite. Have water ready to soak duds and used fireworks before discarding.
  • Watch your kids: Even seemingly kid-friendly fireworks like sparklers can result in significant eye trauma as they burn at more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (hot enough to melt some metals!). It is best to discourage children from playing with fireworks of any kind and supervise them at all times.
  • Leave it to the pros: Of course, the best tip of all is to refrain from using fireworks altogether and take in a professional display instead. 

Fireworks-related eye injuries are medical emergencies that require immediate attention. If you need emergency eye care, do not do any of the following before seeking treatment as they may make the injury worse:

  •  Rub or rinse your eyes
  • Apply pressure to the injury
  • Remove any objects that are stuck in the eye
  • Apply any ointments or take any pain medications

 If you need urgent care for an eye injury, head to the nearest emergency room or call 911. 

August is Children’s Eye Health Month

It’s August, which means you’re likely to find many parents scouring online ads and store shelves for the best back to school deals on backpacks and lunch boxes. But it’s important to schedule a comprehensive eye exam for your kids, too. August is Children’s Eye Health Month, so start the year off right with healthy eyes and clear vision so they can whiz through their school day with ease.

Things to look for if you suspect vision troubles

Most pediatricians will begin routine eye exams during their annual well-child visits beginning at age three. If you or your doctor suspect vision problems or have other eye health concerns, they will recommend you visit an ophthalmologist for further testing. Amblyopia (lazy eye), Strabismus (crossed eyes), color blindness and refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism) are the most common conditions that can affect a child’s eyesight.

“It’s important that all children are screened by an eyecare professional by the age of 5,” explains Dr. Armitage Haprer. “In addition, if there’s a family history of any retinal disease, like retinoblastoma, Stickler’s disease, or Marfan’s Disease, then each child should be screened at birth.”

Here are some common things to watch for, so you’ll know if your child is struggling with their vision:

  • Frequent eye rubbing or squeezing
  • Squinting
  • Tilting or turning head to look at objects
  • Wandering eyes
  • Recurring headaches
  • Watery eyes or redness

Eye safety is just as important for protecting your child’s vision

Did you know that nearly 90 percent of eye injuries affecting children are avoidable? Here are some easy ways you can help protect their vision:

  • Children who play sports should wear eye protection with polycarbonate lenses, which are shatter-resistant.
  • Look for toys that are approved by The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), which means they have met or exceeded national safety standards.
  • Avoid projectile toys like darts, bow and arrow or missile-firing toys.

If your child should experience an eye injury, do not allow them to touch or rub the affected eye and seek medical attention immediately. If your child is in need of specialist care or retinal surgery in Austin, call the experienced eye care specialists at Austin Retina Associates at 800-252-8259 to schedule an appointment.