Sunglasses and large sun hat on the beach
Eye Health, Seasonal Tips

Wear Sunglasses to Avoid Eye Damage

Just as protecting your skin from sun damage should start early in life, it’s important to be aware of summer safety for your eyes before problems develop, says ophthalmologist Karen Rudo, MD.

“I can’t emphasize the use of sunglasses enough for every age group,” said Dr. Rudo. While cataract development is associated with aging, Dr. Rudo says sunglasses won’t prevent them for senior citizens. “After 50 years of sun exposure, it’s too late.”

Dr. Rudo is also concerned about skin cancers – in children and adults - developing in and around the eyes. “We see skin cancers along the eyelid margins (the eyelash lines) and melanoma inside the eyes,” she said.

While wearing a hat in the sun will also help block the sun’s damaging rays, there are other benefits to wearing sunglasses, Dr. Rudo explains. “Sunglasses block the wind, which can cause dry eyes, and this especially true when you’re close to the beach.”

There are additional summer eye hazards which can cause discomfort:

  • Chlorinated pool water can create irritated eyes. Dr. Rudo suggests using over-the-counter artificial tears to minimize the uncomfortable sensations.
  • Use of fans also cause dry eyes and irritations. “It’s not dangerous,” she said, but she urges patients to use a sleep mask if they have a fan in the bedroom. “The mask can block both the light and the air.”
  • Be careful of sunscreen dripping in your eyes. Dr. Rudo recommends a non-greasy sunscreen that won’t migrate with perspiration into your eyes. “Some sunscreens don’t do that as much,” she said, suggesting application about every hour.
  • Remove contact lenses before swimming. “Nobody should ever swim in contact lenses,” Dr. Rudo said, because there is a possibility of developing acanthamoeba, an infection that can result in blindness.
  • Watch out for debris that could fly into your eyes. Be careful, for example, around fireworks and while mowing the lawn; small particles can create plenty of discomfort. “Sunglasses are just as important as sunscreen,” said Dr. Rudo.

Visit Bayhealth's Community Health Blog to learn more about summer safety for you and your family.

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