Taking Care of Your Eyes This Summer
While many people associate summer with skin care and protection, taking care of your eyes is equally important. Every year summer marks an uptick in both eye injuries and seasonal allergies.
In any given year, there are 2.5 million reported eye injuries – contrary to the belief that these primarily occur in the workplace, 44 percent of eye injuries occur at home. More than 90 percent of all eye injuries are preventable.
Many Americans suffer from allergies, especially during the spring and summer when pollen and other allergen counts peak. According to the Center for Disease Control, in a given year 19.1 million adults and 6.1 million children suffer from seasonal allergies.
We spoke with Peter Smulowitz, MD, Associate Chief, BID-Plymouth Emergency Department to learn more about taking care of your eyes this summer.
Q: Why is summer eye protection necessary?
Between UV rays from the sun, pool chemicals, and flying grit from driving or yard work, summer can be tough on the delicate tissues of your eyes. Exposure to these elements can cause anything from irritation and burns to an increased risk of cataracts and cancer.
Q: How can I protect my eyes?
There are several ways that you can protect your eyes this summer:
1. Wear sun protection
• Wear sunglasses labeled “100% UV protection": Use only glasses that block both UV-A and UV-B rays and that are labeled either UV400 or 100% UV protection. Choose wraparound styles so that the sun's rays can't enter from the side.
• Wear a hat along with your sunglasses; broad-brimmed hats are best.
• Don’t forget that children should also wear sun protection.
2. Wear eye protection while doing projects in your home or yard
• Safety glasses can protect you from yard or construction debris that becomes airborne.
3. Avoid or protect against chemicals
• Wear goggles in the pool to avoid irritation from chlorine.
• Don’t wear your contacts while swimming as it can increase the chances of infection.
• If you’re swimming and your eyes begin to sting, get out and rinse them with water.
• Use non-irritating sunscreen: PABA free, since that chemical can cause irritation if it gets in your eyes.
Q: What can I do if summer allergies are irritating my eyes?
If you’re suffering from seasonal allergies, there are a few things that you can do to reduce symptoms of swollen or weepy eyes:
1. Avoid pollen as much as possible by closing windows and keeping surfaces clean.
2. Wear sunglasses as they help to keep dust and pollen out of your eyes.
3. Wear your glasses instead of contact lenses.
4. Use medicated eye drops to help alleviate itching and swelling.
To learn more about eye health and protection, visit the National Eye Institute webpage at https://nei.nih.gov/.