Did you know that July is UV Safety Awareness Month? While most of the focus for sun safety will be on your skin, don’t forget about protecting another important area of the body: your eyes. Too much exposure to bright sunlight and UV rays can increase the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration and growths on the eye, including cancer.
Education, Awareness and Training Make a Difference
The best way to avoid sun-related eye issues is to educate yourself and your family. Take some time to learn more about eye-safety and how to best be prepared as you enjoy the outdoors. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology to help keep your eyes safe this summer:
- Don't focus on color or darkness of sunglass lenses. Select sunglasses that block UV rays. Don't be deceived by color or cost. The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the price tag or how dark the lenses are.
- Check for 100 percent UV protection. Make sure your sunglasses block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays.
- Choose wrap-around styles. Ideally, your sunglasses should wrap all the way around your temples, so the sun's rays can't enter from the side.
- Wear a hat. In addition to your sunglasses, wear a broad-brimmed hat to protect your eyes.
- Don't rely on contact lenses. Even if you wear contact lenses with UV protection, remember to also wear your sunglasses for extra protection.
- Don't be fooled by clouds. Did you know that the sun’s rays can pass through clouds? Sun damage to eyes can occur anytime during the year, not just in the summer.
- Protect your eyes during peak sun times. Sunglasses should be worn whenever you are outside. It's especially important to wear them in the early afternoon and at higher altitudes, where UV light is more intense.
- Never look directly at the sun. Looking directly at the sun at any time, including during an eclipse, can lead to solar retinopathy – damage to the eye's retina from solar radiation.
- Don't forget the kids. Children are also at risk from UV rays, but hats and sunglasses will keep them safe, too! In addition, try to keep children out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun's rays are the strongest.
Have Fun Outdoors While Keeping Your Eyes Safe
Summer is the perfect time for many outdoor activities like golfing, going to the beach, hiking and sports. Taking a few minutes to keep your eyes safe while enjoying your favorite activities can have many positive impacts for your long-term health. The next time you leave for a day outside, don’t forget your sunglasses!