The Georgia summer is in full swing which means spending long days at the pool or lake, enjoying foot long hotdogs at a Braves game, hiking in the North Georgia Mountains, or maybe even taking a trip down to the beach. No matter what your summer activity of choice is, all of us will certainly be exposed to a common element: the Sun. What many people do not understand about the Sun is that even though we need the Sun’s light to live, our star also has a dark side (no pun intended). The Sun gives off radiation in the form of ultraviolet (UV) rays, which are invisible to our eyes. While most of us know to protect our skin from the sun, eye protection often gets overlooked.
When stinging, hot, pink or red burns begin to appear on our skin after spending even just a few minutes in the sun, we know it’s time to go inside. Radiation from the Sun’s UV rays not only burn our skin, but can actually harm our tissues and DNA. While it’s easy to notice a developing sunburn on our bodies, we often forget how the sun can damage our eyes. Some people’s eyes are so sensitive to sunlight that they cannot bare to go outside without sunglasses, but others are less sensitive to the sun’s brightness and this is when the damage is done. Without wearing 100% UV protection sunglasses, the sun’s UV radiation enters our eyes and can cause a plethora of problems like cataracts, photokeratitis (sunburn of the surface of the eye), retinal damage, and even ocular cancers.
If you feel apprehensive going to lounge by the pool, lake or beach, you are wise to want to protect yourself. The good news though, is that sun damage to eyes is totally preventable! Just make sure you consult with your doctor or optician on which sunglasses will give you the best protection and still allow you to see clearly if you wear glasses or contacts. For starters, make sure that your sunglasses are labeled either UV400 or 100% UV-A and UV-B protection. Wrap-around sunglasses are the best way to prevent UV rays from entering on the sides. Don’t forget- if you wear UV protection contacts, you still need UV protection sunglasses! A few other tips include wearing a hat, avoid sun exposure at midday, if possible, and wear your protection even if it is cloudy, because UV radiation can penetrate haze and clouds.
Have fun in the sun this summer, but remember to stay safe and protect your skin AND eyes!
For more information on how to protect your eyes this summer, come in and see us at the Thomas Eye Group Optical Shops, availalable at any of our eight locations. You can reach our Optical Department for information and appointments by calling your closest Thomas Eye Group location.