Sunseekers: Protect Your Eyes
Iowans anxiously watch the weather forecast this time of year, waiting for the yellow icons to populate across the screen signaling consistent sunshine and warmer days. Soon we’ll be soaking up Vitamin D, planting gardens, and enjoying the May flowers. We know it's important to protect our skin from the sun. During Healthy Vision Month in May, DeltaVision wants to remind you to protect your eyes, as well.
Please note that protection from UV rays is important year-round. While our awareness about sun protection tends to rise during the spring and summer, UV radiation can cause damage year-round. In every season, even on cloudy days, take steps to protect your skin and eyes from UV rays.
How does UV radiation affect the eyes?
The effect of the sun’s rays on the eyes can impact people in a variety of ways including damage to the delicate skin around the eyes. More importantly, UV radiation can cause serious eye diseases or cancer.
- Sunspots and premature aging can lead to “crow’s feet” and lines in the skin caused by squinting.
- UV rays can contribute to eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration as well as keratitis, or corneal sunburn, sometimes called snowblindness as it often is caused by the reflection off of snow or water.
- Cancers of the eye impacted by UV rays can include conjunctival cancer and eyelid cancer. While treatable, these cancers can lead to disfiguration, blindness, and other cancers.
How can you protect your eyes from UV radiation?
The best news is that sun protection for your eyes is accessible and will not prevent you from doing outdoor activities that are good for your mental and physical health. There are a variety of ways recommended by DeltaVision that will help you shield your eyes, even if you wear corrective lenses.
- Wear UV protective sunglasses or lenses if you’re outside, even on cloudy days. If you wear corrective lenses, talk to your eye care provider about UV-blocking contact lenses or prescription sunglasses.
- Inside/out protection. If switching eyewear during the day is bothersome, transition lenses in your favorite eyeglasses might be the right solution for you. Make sure the lenses are 100% UV blocking.
- Sports goggles can save the day. If you or your family members are active in outdoor contact sports, prescription sports goggles with UV protection can protect your eyes from the sun and offer protection from the impact of balls, bats, sticks, other players, and more.
- Put a lid on it. Hats made of tightly woven fabric with a rim of 3+ inches offer protection for your eyes and the skin on your face and neck. Plus, you can make a fashion statement!
- Cover up. The sunscreen you use on your body might not be a good fit for the skin on your face. Choose a sunscreen that is safe for your face and around your eyes.
- Timing is everything. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 AM and 4 PM. Hit the pavement for your morning dog walk and weed your garden in late afternoon to avoid the day parts with the highest UV radiation.
With a little bit of planning, UV and SPF protection, you can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine this spring and summer. Protecting your eyes can be as routine as protecting your skin and the best time to start that routine is right now! If you have questions about protecting your eyes from the sun, talk to your eye care provider at your next appointment.