Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Summer Eye Safety


Exposure to the sun’s UV rays without proper eye protection may cause short and long-term damage to the eyes. Eye doctors encourage adults and children to protect their eyes by wearing a hat or sunglasses that properly absorb UV radiation. Children are especially at risk because the effects of sunlight exposure are cumulative with 80% of lifetime UV exposure received by age 18. No matter the location or activity, if you’re outside in the sun you should wear a hat or sunglasses, even on cloudy, cool, or overcast days. Children should wear UV blocking sunglasses to reduce the amount of light entering the eye, protect against harmful UV light, decrease glare, and increase contrast. A dark lens does not necessarily have UV protection—look for lenses that absorb 99 to 100 percent of UV light.

Helmets prevent head injury, but often do not protect the eyes. Make sure children are wearing a polycarbonate face guard or other certified safe protection. Prescription eyeglasses or sunglasses typically do not provide adequate protection for sports use. Lenses in sports eyewear usually are made of polycarbonate, which has built-in ultraviolet protection—a valuable feature for outdoor sports. Visit for information about obtaining protective sports eyewear at no charge.

A common injury in the summertime is a scratch on the surface of the eye (corneal abrasion). Sanding, spray painting, working under cars, leaf blowing or lawn mowing are frequent activities that result in corneal abrasions. Safety goggles with polycarbonate lenses and side shields should be worn whenever there is a risk of particles flying. If a foreign body is in the eye, it may not cause immediate pain, and material embedded in the eye is usually too small to see by the naked eye. Call an eye doctor and irrigate the eye thoroughly with water or saline.

While swimming is a favorite summertime activity, it can lose its appeal quickly if eye safety is forgotten. Wearing swimming goggles keeps irritating chemicals and germs out of children’s eyes while they swim. Adults and children should not wear contact lenses in the pool. The surface tension holding the contacts in will be washed away by water. Infection can also result from untreated lake or pond water getting under the lens. If eyes sting from swimming in a pool, it may mean the chemicals aren't balanced. If the pool water hurts the eyes, get out of the pool. If the eyes continue to burn, rinse immediately with clean water. If the stinging persists, see an eye doctor.

Bug repellant is another chemical to watch out for. To avoid getting repellant in the eyes, spray it on the hands first and then apply to the face. If bug repellant gets in the eyes, flush with lukewarm water for 15 minutes.
Have a safe Summer~
Nurse Donna