Enjoy the lazy days of summer, but follow these tips to avoid or minimize the risks that summer fun can pose to your eye health.
In sand traps or on the beach, objects such as sand, no-see-ums, and debris can lodge under your eyelids. Keep a squirt bottle of water handy to flush the eyes. If you can’t easily dislodge the object, a visit to your eye doctor may be necessary. A golf coach wouldn’t hurt either.
Chlorine helps keep our swimming pools clean, but prolonged exposure to it can cause irritation or toxicity reactions in sensitive eye structures. Goggles can help minimize exposure, especially for children who enjoy marinating in the pool for hours!
Sunscreen also frequently causes eye irritation or toxicity. Be careful when you slather up the kids’ faces to avoid a painful reaction. Severe burning that isn’t relieved by irrigating the eyes with clear water requires treatment by your eye doctor.
Contact lenses act like sponges and soak up these toxins as well as nasty organisms that may be in swimming pools and hot tubs. Avoid infections. Don’t wear your lenses in the water.
Eyelids and eyes are sensitive to UV rays, which can cause cancer as well as surface and internal damage. A good pair of sunglasses with UV-A and UV-B filters minimize exposure, and polarized lenses reduce glare from water, sand and pavement.
Did you know that sparklers burn at 1,200 degrees, and throw off particles at nearly this temperature? They’re fun but dangerous, and can cause severe skin and corneal burns. Explosive fireworks can result in serious injuries, including total loss of vision. Best advice: Leave fireworks to the professionals! We hope to see you at the beach, not at the eye clinic this summer!
Dr. Gleitsmann, MD MPH, practices at Bishop Eye Associates of Hilton Head Island.