While you can protect your skin from damage with sunscreen, you may be neglecting the very real possibility that the summer sun can also damage your eyes. Taking care of your eyes is more than just getting a LensCrafters eye exam at regular intervals. It starts with knowing just how much damage the sun can do to your eyes and your vision.
The Need for UV Protection
When spring and summer arrives, you should have good sunglasses that offer decent UV protection. This is especially crucial when you spend a lot of time under the summer sun. The sun emits ultraviolet rays that can damage your eyes, and there are several types of UV rays (and UV ray protection) to consider.
- UVA Rays. While UVA may not be as strong as UVB and UCR rays, they’re particularly dangerous for your eyes. These rays can harm your macula, which is part of the retina. A damaged macula can diminish your central vision.
- UVB Rays. While some UVB rays are blocked by the ozone layer, a considerable amount can still pass through. UVB rays are notorious for causing skin damage, but they can also help lead to your eyes forming cataracts.
- UVC Rays. These are extremely dangerous to both the skin and the eyes, but the ozone layer blocks most of it. Still, some sunglasses also offer protection against UVC.
- Visible blue light. While your electronic gadgets are often touted as sources of blue light that can damage your eyes, most of the blue light that gets to your eyes also come from the sun.
Eye Health Problems that Can Be Caused by UV Rays
With too much time under the sun while not wearing sunglasses with proper UV protection, you’re more at risk of developing certain eye health problems:
- Cataracts. This is when the clear lens of your eyes turns cloudy, and this will certainly impair your vision. Cataracts can be caused by extended sun exposure.
- Photokeratitis. This is like sunburn for your eyes instead of for your skin. The symptoms of this annoying condition include tearing and red eyes. You may become more sensitive to light, and you might feel that there’s something stuck in your eyes. You can get this problem when you spend an afternoon on the beach and get lots of UV light in a few hours, while not wearing sunglasses with UV protection.
- Conjunctivital Growths. You may have growths on the conjunctiva, which the white part of your eye. It’s more likely to happen to people who live in places that’s sunny all year long.
- Macular Degeneration. This is when the cells of the retina start to deteriorate, and it can lead to problems affecting how you drive, read, or even recognize people. Too much sun exposure can contribute to this problem.
- Cancer. Melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma are types of skin cancer, and they can develop on your eyelids (especially on the lower eyelids). The symptoms can include losing your eyelashes, developing bleeding bumps, and growing new spots on the eyelids. Another sign is chronic inflammation of the eyelids, especially when medication doesn’t help with the condition. Or you can get blurry vision, a spot on the iris, or even a change in the shape of your pupil.
UV rays aren’t the only causes of potential damage to your eyes when you stay too long outdoors during a summer day. Here are some other problems you should keep in mind:
- Tired and irritated eyes. When summer comes and you’re on vacation, you’re more likely to indulge in parties and other activities that cut down on your sleep. That can cause your eyes to get tired and irritated.
- Dry eyes. This is actually a rather common issue, and it can happen at any time of the year. But it may be more likely during the summer, because fans and air conditioning can lead to dry eyes symptoms, and these cooling measures are more prevalent during the summer.
- Summer eyes allergies. You’re not limited to worrying about allergies, since there are some particular common pathogens (such as mold and seeds) that are more prevalent during the summer. This can lead to symptoms such as dry eyes, itchy eyes, and a burning sensation in your eyes.
- Greater risk of infection. Aside from tiring your eyes out with more social activities during the summer, you may also be more likely to get an infection due to some outdoor activities. Swimming, camping, and hiking can expose your eyes to more pathogens that can lead to infections.
So, with summer fast approaching, get yourself tested by an eye doctor, and get some proper tips on how to protect your eyes during the summer season!