How to care for your eyes in summer
With summer well and truly upon us, the sunshine looks like it’s here to stay – for once! We’re all aware of the dangers of UV rays for our skin and how we should protect it, but it’s less widely known how much UV can damage our eyes.
The sun’s rays take nearly eight and a half minutes to reach Earth, but despite our distance from the sun, its rays are still powerful, delivering light that is visible and invisible, harmless and harmful.
The sun has three different types of ultraviolet (UV) light that it shines on us: UVA, UVB and UVC. We are aware of the visible light, but it’s UVA and UVB rays that we need to protect our skin and eyes from. UVB is important for vitamin D formation (and gives us a nice tan), so a little is ok, but too much causes sunburn. UVA is also harmful if our eyes and skin are exposed to it for too long.
How can you help protect your eyes from dangerous UV rays?
- Sunglasses – whether prescription or not, they can protect your eyes from harmful UV rays but also more seriously, help prevent long-term eye conditions such as macular degeneration or cataracts.
- When choosing sunglasses make sure they are rated to block out at least 95% of UVA light
- Don’t discriminate against times of the year – 90% of UV rays can penetrate clouds, so make sure you’re protected all year round
Another problem that can affect people when enjoying the bright summer days is dry eye. Dry eye is a common condition where the eyes don’t produce enough lubricating tears, or where the tears are poor quality and so don’t sufficiently lubricate the eyes. This makes the eyes itchy and irritated, with the whites of the eyes appearing red and sometimes even causing blurred vision.
What can cause dry eye?
Causes can include (but are not limited to):
- Allergies or hay fever
- Dry air inside aeroplanes
- Air conditioning
- Swimming pools and sea water
What can you do to relieve dry eyes?
- Use artificial ‘tears’ or eye drops
- Drink plenty of water
- Turn the air conditioning down/off
- Wear sunglasses when outside to protect your eyes against the sun and wind
Does anyone else feel like hay fever was 10x worse this year compared to normal? Well, you’re right, in fact, the pollen count in June 2018 reached its highest levels in more than 10 years, with an estimated 20 million people in the UK affected. Whilst there is no one known cure for hay fever, there are preventative measures you can take to help ease the symptoms of hay fever:
- Eye drops and antihistamines – you can pick these up from your local pharmacy or speak to your GP if you need a stronger dose than those provided over the counter
- Wear sunglasses – they help stop exposure to pollen
- Take regular showers – this can help get rid of any pollen that’s collected on your skin and hair throughout the day
- Don’t hang your washing outside – your clothes and bedding can also collect pollen, which increases the amount that your skin and eyes come into contact with
- Quit smoking – smoking adds to the allergens in your airways
- Make your car a pollen-free zone – buy HEPA-certified pollen filtersfor your car and remember to keep the windows closed to reduce pollen particles entering
The best way to take care of your eyes in summer, or at any time of year, is to have regular eye examinations. Eye exams at Leightons Opticians & Hearing Care include a thorough eye health check, helping to diagnose eye conditions early, or prevent further issues developing, to keep your eyes in top condition all year round.