The Best Ways To Protect Your Eyes This Summer
While most of us are pretty diligent when it comes to protecting our body and face from the damaging effects of the sun, it’s easy to forget about our eyes and eyelids. Of course, that’s probably because our favorite pair of sunglasses are always there to prevent squinting, discomfort, and protection from the sun’s harmful rays. But, that’s just scratching the surface on simple sun protection methods. Did you know that certain sunscreens are actually safe to use on and around the eyelid? It’s true. Now, whether you’ve feared getting sunscreen in your eye (ouch!), or you just didn’t know you could apply sunscreen there, dermatologists agree it’s a must. Continue on to learn more about your eye health, as well as the best precautions to protect your eyes this summer.
The Sun, Skin Cancer and Your Eyes
The skin around the eyes is the thinnest skin on your body (approximately 0.5mm thick). This makes it very susceptible to irritation from harsh topical products and sun damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This sensitive area also makes it more susceptible to skin cancer.
According to the Columbia University Department of Ophthalmology, statistics show that 5-10% of all skin cancers occur on the eyelid. In fact, the eyelids are one of the first places dermatologists check for skin cancer. Needless to say, it’s not just our kids that need protection. At least 10% of cataract cases are attributable to UV exposure. UV radiation can also cause other serious eye conditions, including the following:
- Macular Degeneration
- Corneal sunburn
- Conjunctive cancers
5 Ways to Protect Your Eyes This Summer
Shielding your eyes against the sun’s harmful rays not only decreases your risk of developing eye conditions but also aids in preserving your vision and preventing blindness. As an added layer of protection, keep the following sun safety tips in mind:
1. Wear Sunscreen
Before heading to the beach, pool, or backyard, take a moment to put a layer of sunscreen on and around your eyes and eyelids. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, preferably higher. Also, choose a brand without added fragrances or preservatives that can irritate the eye. And, remember never to spray sunblock straight on the face.
A great option is to apply a fragrance-free sunscreen stick, or lip balm around the eyes, one that is formulated with titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide as the active ingredients. These sticks and balms have a high wax content which may prevent them from spreading into the eyes when sweating. Most importantly, these minerals won’t usually irritate the eye.
2. Wear Sunglasses
Most people think of sunglasses as a fashion accessory when they should be wearing them to protect their eye health. For best protection, choose shades that block 99 to 100% of both UVA and UVB light. Look for the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation. And in this case, bigger is better! Those Jackie-O saucer-type sunglasses don’t just look cool, they protect better as well.
3. Throw on a Hat
The best eye protection money can buy is a floppy sun hat. In fact, hats can block as much as half of all UV rays from your eyes and eyelids. Whenever possible, throw on a cap before you hit the surf or outdoors. And, opt for a hat with at least a three-inch brim and tightly woven fabric (no holes).
4. Seek Shade
Find a shady place to hang out this summer to limit your overall sun exposure. Whenever possible, and especially during the hours of 10 AM – 4 PM when the sun is at its most intense, take a break in the shade. Your eyes (and skin) will thank you. Especially if you have light-colored eyes as they are often more sensitive to the sun and bright light.
5. Be Cautious Around the Water
Take extra care of your eyes and skin around water and sand in the summer. Interestingly, 80% or more of the sun’s rays reflect off these surfaces, so they hit your skin and eyes a second time. Double the trouble.
Although the sun can cause some serious damage to the eyes, it’s easy to prevent irreversible harm with a few simple precautions. So, next time you hit the beach or pool, remember that it’s not just your skin you need to protect, but those baby blues as well. Have more questions about sun protection for your eyes? Contact the professionals at Looking Glass optical. Our knowledgeable team is here to provide you peace of mind. We can schedule an appointment to address all of your concerns.