Sunshine is Healthy in Moderation

sunIt’s summertime, and everyone is sporting sunglasses. This is wise because too much exposure to UV rays increases the risk of eye conditions and diseases such as:

  • Cataracts
  • Sunburn of the eyes called photokeratitis
  • Cancer
  • Eye tumors or growths called pterygium

A combination of sunscreen, sunglasses that offer 100 percent UVA/UVB protection and a wide-brimmed hat will help you enjoy some fun in the sun safely. Every time you go outside without protecting your eyes and the delicate skin around your eyes, you are increasing the risk of eye disease.

Eye Protection is not Just for Sunny Days

Even in the wintertime, overexposure to snow reflection can cause a painful condition called snow blindness, so it is important to take precautions at all times of the year. Cloudy days can be deceiving and may cause you to let your guard (or sunglasses) down. Do not be fooled by a lack of sunlight, though. UV rays can penetrate through clouds and cause eye damage. This can be especially dangerous when at the beach or on a boat. Make a habit of protecting your skin whenever you go outside and not just when it is sunny. We all know that weather can change in a moment’s notice!

The Benefits of Natural Sunlight

If you are fair-skinned, you may be tempted to stay inside to avoid sunburns and eye injury. While you may need to limit your sun exposure, you will still benefit from being outdoors. A few moments of unprotected sun exposure is healthy for vitamin D production, an essential vitamin for bone health. Some research suggests that light-sensitive cells in the eye are important to our ability to regulate sleep-wake cycles. It may be that a little dose of natural light may prevent insomnia and sleeplessness, a common problem as we age.

Finally, some studies report that children who play outdoors may have reduced risk for nearsightedness. Having children to go outside to play has many other side benefits like preventing obesity, stimulating imagination and encouraging creativity. If you or your child is fair-skinned, talk to your eye doctor or primary care physician about how many minutes of unprotected sun exposure is safe. This number will vary from person to person (Source: Get Eye Smart).

Good Habits Begin One Day at a Time

If you have not made a habit of wearing sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat, commit to making this a priority. You will model good behavior in front of your children, and they can help you remember. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Have sunscreen in several places. Keep sunscreen in your home, in your car and in the swim bag.
  • Apply sunscreen to the whole family in the mornings. Use caution when applying sunscreen to the face, and purchase sunscreen that is made specifically for the face.
  • Have several pairs of sunglasses and hats for yourself and family members. Keep some at home and some in the car.
  • Entrust the family member with the best memory to remind everyone to wear sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat each day. Habits begin slowly but become part of your daily routine.
  • Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen as directed on the bottle or container.

This trifecta of eye protection will help prevent eye disease and keep your vision clear and healthy. Don’t miss out on any of the summer fun by damaging your eyes when you could prevent eye damage by three easy steps that take less than a minute of your time each day. If you have questions about protecting your eyes from the sun, talk to your eye doctor or contact one of our eye professionals in your area.

 

Related Articles:

Should My Children Wear Sunglasses?
Save Your Vision in the Sun
Eye Safety in the Sun