With summer in full swing, protecting your eyes is more important than ever. By adequately protecting your eyes now you’ll greatly reduce the risk of developing a cataract or macular degeneration in the future, and you can avoid causing long-term damage your retinas.

Consider following these 7 Summer eye safety tips before you venture out into the abundant sunshine.

1. Wear Sunglasses to Block UV Exposure

Though this may seem like an obvious solution, wearing sunglasses is one of the most important steps you can take for protecting your eyes. However, to truly provide proper protection, you should choose your sunglasses wisely. Consider investing in a pair of large sunglasses with wrap-around frames to provide multi-angle protection from harmful UV exposure. The American Optometric Association suggests that adequate sunglasses should also:

     - Block 99-110 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation

     - Block 75-90 percent of visible light

     - Contain gray lenses for prime color recognition

     - Be free of distortion or imperfections

2. Wear a Sun Hat to Protect from UV Exposure

Take your UV protection one step further by donning a hat when exposed to sunlight. Large sun hats, visors, and big-billed hats prevent the sun from directly contacting your face and eyes, even in the shade where UV rays remain an issue.

3. Apply Sunscreen with Care Around Your Eyes 

Wearing sunblock is absolutely essential when exposing yourself to the sun. However, if not applied carefully, sunscreen can seep into your eyes and cause agonizing stinging and uncomfortable irritation. Though sunscreen won’t cause long-term damage, the chemicals may burn the surface of the eye and can result in days of pain. If all efforts fail and you end up falling victim to seeping sunscreen, consider the following tips:

     - Remove contact lenses, if applicable

     - Flush with lubricating eye drops- if available- or water

     - Rinse eyes every hour or two with preservative-free drops

     - Avoid wearing contacts for two days and replace with a new set

     - If irritation persists for more than two days, visit your eye doctor

4. Understand the Dangers of UV Rays

By fully understanding the dangers of harmful UV rays, you’ll be more educated when it comes to protecting your eyes and skin from the sun. Below are a few fast facts on UV exposure:

     - The front of the eye absorbs more than 99 percent of UV radiation.

     - Though blindness is the ultimate result, UV exposure can also cause chronic effects like corneal damage, cataracts, and macular degeneration.

     - UV rays come from all different directions – the sun, ground, water, snow, etc.

5. Focus on Eye-Healthy Eating 

Stock your kitchen with foods that help your eyes fend off summer stresses. By adding certain vitamins and minerals to your diet, you’ll boost your eye health to further prevent sun damage. Consider eating foods that are high in vitamins C and E, as well as minerals like lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega fatty acids. Below are some ideas to get you started:

     - Carrots (Vitamin A)

     - Leafy Greens (lutein and zeaxanthin)

     - Eggs, particularly yolks (lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc)

     - Berries (Vitamin C)

     - Almonds (Vitamin E)

     - Fatty Fish (omega fatty acids)

6. Eye Health is Connected to Overall Health

Having a healthy body can support having healthy eyes. Try to exercise daily, as a recent British study found that individuals with active lifestyles are 70 percent less likely to suffer from macular degeneration. This goes hand-in-hand with staying hydrated; the more water you drink the less likely your eyes will become dehydrated and susceptible to the harmful effects of the sun.

7. Schedule an Annual Eye Exam

Even if you take great care of your eyes and are dedicated to protecting your eyes from harmful UV exposure, it’s important to schedule regular eye exams to support having the best eye health possible. At VSP Individual Vision Plans, we provide vision insurance plans that are convenient, flexible, and personal. If you’re not currently covered by vision insurance, learn about the benefits and savings of a VSP vision plan or build a vision plan with our VSP vision plan wizard today.

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