Ah, summer! Australians love spending time outdoors – at the beach, in the backyard or travelling during the school holidays. But be aware – our harsh Australian sun means that harmful ultraviolet rays can slowly damage our eyes over time and put us at risk for conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Here’s how you need to protect your eyes this summer.
Wear Sunglasses with Complete Ultraviolet Protection:
You already know that you should protect your skin from ultraviolet radiation and this pertains to our eyes too. Make sure you invest in a good quality pair of sunglasses that protect your eyes against both, UVA and UVB rays. Too much exposure to UV radiation can cause photokeratitis or photo conjunctivitis (also known as “snow blindness”) in the short-term. Continual exposure may also cause cataracts, pterygium (a non-cancerous growth over the cornea) or skin cancer of the eyelids.
Use Goggles at the Pool:
We love splashing about in our backyard pools to cool off during summer, but the chlorine used to keep our pools clean can make our eyes hurt. Frequent exposure to chlorine affects the integrity of your corneal epithelium, which protects the cornea from irritants and pathogens. Protect your eyes by wearing goggles when swimming.
Wear a Broad-brimmed Hat:
In addition to your sunglasses, you need to wear sunscreen and a hat with a brim at least three inches wide to provide additional protection. Basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer (accounting for 75% of all skin cancers), is caused by excessive sun exposure over the years. While BCC does not usually spread to other parts of the body, prevention is always better than cure.
Wear Eye Protection While Doing Home Maintenance Jobs:
Summer is a great time to catch up on those long-neglected jobs around the house. Wear protective googles and strap on a face mask if you are working with anything that could be hazardous: spray paint, wood work tools, gardening, etc. Exposure to chemicals is very bad for the eyes and can even cause chemical burns. Foreign bodies like sand, dust, wood chips, etc. can damage to our corneas. It’s better to be safe than sorry by wearing safety glasses when doing household chores.
Make Sure Children Get Adequate Eye Protection:
Kids love being out and about, enjoying their school holidays. Make sure they are sun-smart and well protected. A child’s ocular lenses do not filter out UV light as efficiently as an adult’s and they are more vulnerable to sun damage. Keep reminding your children to reapply their sunscreen regularly and make sure they are wearing sunglasses and hats. As our kids are taught at school: No hat, no play, no fun today!
Eat Healthy and Drink Plenty of Water:
Did you know that what you eat has the power to affect how well you see? Foods that are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants known to resist macular degeneration and cataracts. Foods high in Vitamins C and E and zinc can assist those with symptoms of age-related macular degeneration. Also make sure you don’t get dehydrated in summer since it can cause dry eyes and other vision problems. Drink plenty of water to prevent and reverse many of the negative effects of dehydration, as well as providing fluid for normal eye function.
Get Enough Sleep:
Our modern lifestyle means that we are often straining our eyes thanks to long hours spent in front of screens. Getting a good night’s sleep is very important for your overall health. Moreover, rested eyes are important so that you don’t suffer decreased cognition on visual tasks such as driving safely or looking after children.
Take a proactive approach to eye care during the hot summer months and your eyes will say thank you!