8 tips on how to protect your eyes in summer
Summertime is a popular season, but it can be a challenging time for many as we battle things like hay fever, UV rays, and accidents as we become more adventurous in the warmer months - all of which can affect your eye health.
Whether you’re prone to eye problems in summer or you just want to know how to improve the health of your eyes, take a look below to find out how to protect your eyes from the summer elements.
1. Wear sunglasses with UV protection
Sunglasses are essential during summer, or any time when the sun is at its strongest. Your eyes are vulnerable to the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays known as UVA and UVB, in fact, just like the rest of your body, your eyes can actually get sunburned.
Sunburn of the cornea is a condition known as photokeratitis. It is very painful and causes symptoms such as swelling around the eyelids, redness, excessive tears, and headache.
Long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation can also lead to conditions that cause loss of vision such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
To avoid these serious complications of sun damage, protect your eyes with sunglasses. We suggest investing in a pair of ophthalmic sunglasses that have 100% protection against UVA and UVB rays, and the best place to find these is at your local opticians.
Wearing sunglasses outside also helps prevent pollen from getting into your eyes and triggering irritating hay fever symptoms.
2. Don’t look directly at the sun
As beautiful as the sun is, it’s not wise to look directly at it. This might sound obvious, but it’s easy to admire the sun in all its glory whilst causing permanent damage to your eyes in the process.
Even if you’re wearing sunglasses, avoid staring at the sun. UV rays can penetrate the eye to the retina (which is responsible for processing light), and can permanently destroy the tissue and essential cells and proteins.
You won’t feel the effects of UV damage to the eyes straight away, it can take several hours before you’ll experience pain and vision impairment.
Wearing a wide-brimmed hat as well as sunglasses provides extra protection for your eyes.
3. Wear goggles when swimming
Whether you’re swimming in the sea or a pool, the water will be full of chemicals, bacteria, salt, and other contaminants which can cause irritation to the eyes.
Goggles are essential while swimming. They fit tightly to the eyes ensuring there are no gaps for these contaminants to seep through and enter the eyes causing burning, itching, stinging, and redness.
4. Treat hay fever symptoms before they arise
For some people, hay fever predominantly affects the eyes causing symptoms of swelling, itching, redness, and watery eyes. These hay fever symptoms can be the hardest to deal with, they cause a great deal of discomfort and can hinder daily activities.
Avoiding pollen is the best way to prevent hay fever symptoms, but this is easier said than done. We’re surrounded by pollen when we go outdoors, and it can even linger on our clothes.
If you suffer from hay fever every year, make sure this year you take preventive medication to stop symptoms coming on. Benadryl One a Day tablets can be taken each day to keep symptoms at bay.
5. Wash your hands and avoid touching your eyes
Did you know, on average we touch our face more than 20 times an hour? Bacteria, pollen, and other contaminants enter through the eyes, nose, and mouth - and hand to face touching is the perfect method of transmission.
Avoid touching your eyes altogether, but if you must, ensure your hands are thoroughly clean to avoid spreading contaminants.
6. Keep your eyes lubricated
Dry eyes can lead to abrasions, infections, and more seriously, vision loss if left untreated due to a lack of tears protecting the eyes. Your tears help to clear away any dust and particles from the eyes, this helps to keep them healthy and free from infection.
It’s important to keep your eyes and the rest of your body hydrated. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding anything dehydrating such as caffeine and alcohol helps with the healthy production of tears.
You can use artificial tears in the form of eye drops to lubricate your eyes. These are often used daily or when needed, and provide soothing relief from the gritty, sore feeling of dry eyes.
Other things you can do to relieve dry eyes include:
- Reduce your time looking at screens - take frequent breaks from your computer/phone
- Don’t spend too much time in air-conditioned or heated rooms
- Wear glasses rather than contact lenses if you can
7. Take care of your contact lenses
If you’re a contact lens wearer, you’re likely prone to dry eyes. To avoid this, change your lenses and clean them as prescribed.
Don’t leave your lenses lying around anywhere as you’re at risk of transmitting dirt and bacteria to your eyes, instead, store them in a clean contact lens container in a solution that’s recommended by your eye doctor.
If you’re out and about this summer, keep a hand sanitiser with you to disinfect your hands in case you need to remove your lenses.
8. Wear protective eyewear while gardening
Let’s face it, we all get braver in the summer months. We take up gardening, try new sports, and make a start on building that shed you’ve been promising to do for years! We’re generally more active and adventurous, but ensure you’re protecting your eyes with suitable eyewear while doing so.
When mowing the grass, or handling woodwork it’s easy for debris to fly off and hit your eyes - and nobody wants a trip to A&E!
First aid for eye injuries
If accidents do occur it’s best to be well equipped and knowledgeable on how to treat eye injuries.
If you’ve got a strong chemical in your eye, irrigate your eye with clean water until you get medical attention (preferably at A&E).
If an object is in your eye do not try to remove it, again rinse your eye with water. Hold your eye open if you can and run water over your eyeball so that it drains away from your face. If the object doesn’t come out, you can’t open your eye, or it has pierced your eyeball, you will need to go to A&E for urgent medical help.
One final piece of advice for taking care of your eyes this summer - live well by getting enough quality sleep, eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated. All of this will help to keep your eyes healthy and sparkling all summer long.