Shield your vision: 7 summer tips for protecting your eyes from sun damage

The sun’s UV rays and summer heat can harm your eyes.

Staying safe in the summer sun requires more than slathering on sunscreen. Though the conversation often revolves around protecting your skin during the summer, caring for your eyes is equally crucial. 

Globally, there are 15 million people who are blind from cataracts, and up to 10% of these individuals may have been exposed to ultraviolet radiation that caused their condition [1]. The great news is that there are a few easy ways to prevent your eyes from being damaged by the sun. 

There are various ways to protect your eyes from the heat, from wearing sunglasses to following a balanced diet. Summer eye care tips backed by science [2]:

Put on some sunglasses

It’s easy and stylish to protect your eyes during the day by wearing sunglasses. UV rays can cause a variety of eye diseases, including photokeratitis and cataracts, if your eyes aren’t protected from the sun [3].

Try polarized lenses: These are designed with a special chemical that filters more light [4]. In addition, they reduce glare from reflective surfaces, such as water and snow.

Opt for the right lens color: Darker lenses are not more suitable at blocking UV rays than lighter lenses. Your pupils open wider when you wear extremely dark lenses, allowing more sunlight to enter. Get the most sun protection by choosing gray or smoke-colored lenses instead of dark lenses.

Make sure your eyes are hydrated

Your eyes can dry out quickly in summer, particularly if you live in a dry climate, stay in air-conditioned spaces frequently or spend a lot of time in swimming pools. If you wear contact lenses, dry eyes may cause burning, irritation, and light sensitivity.

Avoid alcohol: Consuming alcohol can also dry out your eyes, so lessening your booze intake may help keep your eyes more lubricated and fight off dehydration [6].

Use eye drops if your eyes are dry: If you have a moderate case of dry eyes, you may find relief from over-the-counter eye drops. If the irritation persists, talk to your doctor about prescription-strength drops.

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Maintain a healthy diet 

Nutritional diets can improve your eye health as well. You should eat a variety of antioxidant-rich foods that support eye health as part of a well-balanced meal plan.

You may be able to lower your risk of cataracts by taking vitamin C, for instance. Raw bell peppers, oranges and carrots are good sources of this vitamin. 

Vitamin E also prevents free radicals from damaging and destroying the tissue in your eyes [7]. Sweet potatoes, seeds, nuts and nuts contain vitamin E. Leafy greens and orange vegetables contain vitamin A, which supports proper eye function.

Conversely, there are also foods that are harmful to your eyes. Drinking sugary drinks and eating fried foods, for instance, can increase your risk of diabetes and diabetic retinopathy.

Spend less time on screens

It is possible to strain your eyes by staring at a laptop or phone screen for too long. The most common symptoms of eye strain are headaches, light sensitivity, itchy eyes and blurred vision.

Depending on your job, avoiding screen time may not be possible. There are some eye care tactics you can use to limit the negative effects of digital screens.

When using electronic screens, the American Optometric Association recommends following the 20-20-20 rule.

At least once every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break from all screens to look at something 20 feet away.

You can also protect your eyes from digital screens by lowering the brightness on your devices, switching to dark mode and wearing blue-light-blocking glasses.

Avoid looking directly at the sun

The sun can cause severe, and sometimes permanent, damage to your eyes when you stare at it for too long.

A condition called solar or photic retinopathy can occur when the sun’s UV rays damage your retinas by forming free radicals.

There are milder symptoms of solar retinopathy, such as watery eyes, eye discomfort and headaches. In more severe cases, you may experience blurred vision or blind spots [8]. 

Some people are unable to reverse these effects. Consult your doctor if your vision has worsened after viewing an eclipse or looking at the sun.

Shield your vision: 7 summer tips for protecting your eyes from sun damage

Protect your eyes while outside or playing sports

While outdoors, you can protect your eyes in other ways besides wearing sunglasses. When gardening or hiking, you can cover your eyes with a wide-brimmed hat or visor.

Grab a pair of goggles before heading to the beach or pool to protect your eyes from water, salt and chlorine.

To reduce your risk of eye injuries, wear protective glasses while playing sports. To prevent burns on your eyelids or the sensitive skin around your eyes, you should always wear sunscreen on your face.

Make sure you get enough sleep

Sleep deprivation can affect your eye health in a number of ways, and science supports that.

Researchers found a correlation between low-quality sleep and dry eye disease, noting that low-quality sleep can exacerbate the disease [9].

When you’re tired, you’re also more prone to rub your eyes, which could cause damage or infection [10].

Other irritating but non-serious health issues associated with inadequate sleep include myokymia (eye twitching), bloodshot eyes and puffiness.

Defending your eyes from harmful UV rays should be a top priority when enjoying the summer sun.

By wearing sunglasses with 100% UV protection and taking other preventive measures like seeking shade and wearing a hat, you can safely bask in the warm weather and reduce the risk of long-term eye damage.

So don’t let UV rays get in the way of your summer fun and take steps to protect your eyes and vision today.

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The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.