3 Hot Tips for Eyecare this Summer

3 Hot Tips for Eyecare this Summer

No matter the season, it’s always a good idea to look after your eyes and vision. In summer specifically, we need our eyes to enjoy the bright sunlight (without looking directly at the sun, of course. Don’t do that), watch the surf, and keep an eye on that barbeque grill.  So, as we move into sunnier weather, remember these 3 hot tips to keep your eyes happy and bright.

  1. Wear sun protection.

Sunlight is a funny thing – we need it to see when we’re outdoors, for producing vitamin D in our bodies, for boosting mood, and it even plays a role in reducing the risk of near-sightedness in children. But we don’t want too much of it, because it’s also linked to sunburn, cancer, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, pterygia, and pingueculae. Excess ultraviolet exposure is also associated with a painful and inconvenient condition called photokeratitis, which is essentially sunburn on your eyes.

The advice from the American Academy of Ophthalmology is to protect your eyes from UV exposure in every season, particularly when you know the UV is high. You can’t (and shouldn’t try to) put sunscreen on your eyes, but you can wear good-quality sunglasses and a hat. When it comes to sunglasses, don’t just pick any ol’ frame off the shelf. For optimum protection, look for sunglasses that guarantee 100% UV protection. The tag may also mention UV-A and UV-B blocking, or UV400. Also check that the frame is the right size to provide adequate coverage around your eyes, and doesn’t sit too far away from your face. You can read more about choosing the right sunglasses here.

When it comes to UV radiation, you might be forgiven for thinking it’s only a problem on bright, sunny days. However, UV rays can pass through clouds and haze, so overcast days can still pose a risk for UV-related eye damage. UV may also be reflected off surfaces, such as water, snow, or ice, catching you unawares under your sunglasses.

  1. Be wary of wearing contact lenses into the water.

A lot of people wear contact lenses specifically for use around water. After all, you can’t see much if your eyeglasses are speckled with water or if they get knocked off by a rogue wave. However, pools, hot tubs and saunas, oceans, lakes, and rivers, are not sterile bodies of water.

Acanthamoeba is a nasty organism responsible for causing a nasty eye infection known as acanthamoeba keratitis, which is most common in contact lens wearers. Though anyone can be affected, even those with impeccable contact lens hygiene or those who don’t wear contacts at all, acanthamoeba keratitis most frequently targets contact lens wearers who:

  • Do not have impeccable contact lens hygiene, using improper storage, handling, or disinfection methods
  • Swim, use a hot tub, or shower in their lenses
  • Somehow get contaminated water into their eyes

So, what’s a short-sighted sun-loving swimmer to do? Talk to your optometrist. You may be recommended prescription swim goggles, or perhaps even LASIK could be the way to go.

  1. Manage dry eye symptoms.

Dry eyes happen to most of us at some point or another. For some people, it can be a constant gritty, tired, sore feeling, while for others it may only make an appearance every now and then. During the summer months, dry eye symptoms may be exacerbated by air conditioning indoors or by hot, dry winds outdoors. If you are prone to summer allergies, such as to certain tree pollens, you may find dry eye symptoms beginning to flare up now. Contact lens-wear can also be a triggering factor for dry eye, so if your lenses come out during summer, you may start noticing your eyes beginning to feel dry and irritated.

The first thing you can consider to manage dry eye symptoms is to modify your environment where possible. Aim air conditioning vents away from your face or stay indoors on hot windy days, if you can. If you know your contact lenses are the culprit, talk to your optometrist about being refitted into a more comfortable lens or perhaps change your cleaning routine.

If those steps are insufficient, you may consider off-the-shelf lubricant eyedrops, which are available without a prescription. These can be used multiple times throughout the day, but it’s best to speak to your eyecare professional for direction about which lubricant eyedrop is most suitable for you. In addition to eyedrops, there are other therapies for managing more stubborn dry eyes, such as warm compresses, medicated eyedrops, or even in-office treatments. As there are a multitude of other factors contributing to dry eyes, including certain medications and systemic illnesses, if dry eyes are becoming a real problem, don’t hesitate to speak to your eyecare professional.

You love the sun and no doubt the sun loves you. As things heat up, don’t forget to take care of your eyes and your vision so you can keep enjoying that sunlight.