7 Safety Tips For Protecting Your Eyes This Summer
Did you know that more than 90 percent of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun? And skin cancers of the eyelid, like basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma, (SCC) account for nearly 10 percent of all skin cancers. Though men are typically more susceptible to these conditions, an estimated 100,000 Americans are diagnosed with cancer of the eyelid every year.
By exposing your eyes to the sun, you are also subjecting them to the harmful UV light that is the largest risk factor for cancer. And while cancers like BCCs in other areas of the body don’t tend to spread, cancer in the eyelid has a significant risk of spreading to the eyeball itself as well as surrounding areas on the face. This can cause irreparable damage to the eye and often results in disfiguration to facial structures.
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 helpful tips for protecting your eyes before you venture out into the abundant sunshine.
1. Wear Sunglasses
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. Have A Hat
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. Selective Sunscreening
Wearing sunblock is absolutely essential when exposing your self 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 often 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 UV Dangers
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. Eat For Your Eyes
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 eyesight and 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. Be Body Conscious
Having a healthy body results in 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. Attend Regular Eye Exams
Even if you take great care of your eyes and are dedicated to protecting your eyes from harmful UV exposure, it’s important to attend regular eye exams to ensure you have the best vision health possible. At VSP Individual Vision Plans, we understand the importance of taking proper care of your eyes and are eager to partner with you to provide excellent eye care. From affordable vision insurance plans, to helpful tips, to high-quality eye care.