We are on the heels of summer! Post COVID-19 this summer will be different than what we have experienced in previous summers. While you follow safety guidelines from the CDC and local health departments including proper social distancing. There will still be fun times spent outdoors, but it also means more exposure to harmful UV rays. Are you prepared with the proper sun protection?
UV Rays Versus Healthy Vision
Even being careful not to look directly at the sun, just being outside for extended periods can be enough to get sunburns on our eyes. These are called photokeratitis, and symptoms include redness, a grainy feeling when blinking, light sensitivity, tearing, and blurred vision. In snowy areas, photokeratitis is often called “snow blindness,” but it is also a problem spending extended amounts of time outside in the summer.
Long term, UV exposure can have cumulative effects on our vision, including increasing the risk of developing sight-threatening conditions like macular degeneration and cataracts. We also become more vulnerable to pterygium or “surfer’s eye” (an overgrowth of the clear tissue of the whites of the eyes towards the iris) and pinguecula (white or yellow bumps that form in the whites of the eyes).
Wear Sunglasses to Protect Your Eyesight from UV Rays
The first priority should be to have a pair of sunglasses and make sure they offer full UV protection. Check the label to see if your sunglasses block at least 99% of UVA and UVB rays. Large lenses are also a good idea because they offer more coverage. Polarized lenses provide even better protection because they eliminate the glare from sunlight bouncing off surfaces around us, including other cars and the surface of the water.
Other Tips for UV Protection
In addition to always wearing sunglasses when outside during the day, there are other things you can do to keep your eyes (and skin) safe from the sun:
- Minimize the time you spend in the sun during the brightest hours of the day (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
- Wear wide-brimmed hats for additional shade.
- Use sunscreen!
Please contact Gainesville Eye Associates at (770) 532-4444 to discuss your eye health.