Summer eye safety tips

Thu, 06/25/2009 - 10:43am
By: The Citizen

By John L Henahan,

Just as we take extra care to protect our skin from the intense sun of summer, we need to protect our eyes from the unique conditions of summer.

During the long, hot days of summer we spend a lot more time outside. The sun emits huge amounts of UV light, which is why we can become sunburned, even on overcast days. Your eyes are also very sensitive to the sun’s harmful UV rays and even to “high energy visible” light (also called HEV light). Many of us fail to consider the importance of protecting our eyes from the harmful effects of excess sun exposure.

Just as excess UV exposure to our skin can lead to sunburn or even skin cancer later in life, excess UV can also cause our eyes to develop cataracts, age related macular degeneration (ARMD) and unsightly growths on the eye.

There are some simple steps that you can take to give your eyes the same protection that you give your skin from sunlight.
First, always wear high quality, polarized sunglasses. Polarized lenses not only protect your from UV light, but they also cut the sun’s glare dramatically when compare to sun-tinted lenses alone. In fact, up to 33% of serious injury and fatality car wrecks can be attributed to impaired vision from glare. So you protect more than your eyes with polarized sunglasses, you protect the lives around you (including your own!).

Coppertone lenses (from the sunscreen company) are polarized and protect against both UV and HEV light. This gives maximum protection to you eyes when outside or

Second, if you wear contact lenses, be sure that they have some UV protection. While not a substitute for sunglasses, any additional protection is helpful. Some of the most popular contact lens brands do not include this protection, so check with an eye doctor if you are not sure.

Third, be sure to keep your eyes and your body well hydrated. In the heat as we become dehydrated, we produce fewer tears and that can lead to dry eye. This can damage the surface of the eye.

Finally, if you spend a lot of time outdoors, or if you are older, consider nutritional support for you eyes, such as lutein and fish oil capsules to reduce the risk of ARMD, and other eye problems, such as dry eye.

With a few precautions, you and your eyes can enjoy a lifetime of beautiful, sunny days!

Dr. John Henahan is a fellowships trained doctor of optometry practicing and living right here in Peachtree City with his wife and two sons. You may call his office at 770 487-0667 or visit him on the web at

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