Five ways to protect your eyes this summer

Eye Unit Sister

UVA and UVB rays are extremely damaging to the delicate eyelid skin and are the number one cause of aging around the whole face. We've put together a guide with some hints and tips on why you should protect your eyes from the sun - and how.

1. Wear sunglasses outdoors

When you're buying your sunglasses, you don't want to just them to look good; they need to play a functional role as well.

UVA and UVB rays are extremely damaging to the delicate eyelid skin and are the number one cause of aging around the whole face. These rays can also cause the development of small skin cancers - particularly around the high-risk eye region. Inside the eye, UV damage has been shown to accelerate the formation of cataracts and can cause damage to the retina, macular degeneration and scarring on the cornea known as a pterygium.

 So, what do you need to look for when shopping for sunglasses? The most important element is a sticker that says UV400. With UV400 you can feel confident that your glasses will filter out harmful UVA and UVB rays. Make sure that the glasses carry the ‘CE’ mark or British Standard BS EN ISO 12312-1:2013.

Also consider the size of the glasses. The bigger the better, because the more coverage you get the better, they’ll protect the sensitive region from the brow to the upper cheek.

Avoid the hottest part of the day (usually between midday and 2pm) when the sun is at its strongest. Be especially careful when you’re on the beach; sand can magnify the sun’s power and affect your eyes.

 And remember that, even on cloudy days, UV rays can penetrate the clouds so be sure to wear your sunglasses even if it’s dull outside.

Tips for summer eye health

Miss Elizabeth Hawkes, Our Consultant Ophthalmic and Oculoplastic Surgeon recently explained the importance of UV400 sunglasses when looking after your eye health.

2. Wear goggles if you’re in the pool

If you’re planning on doing lots of swimming, or just relaxing in the pool, don’t forget to take your goggles. The chlorinated water in the pool can wash away the thin layer of tears that coat our eyes, known as the tear film. This can aggravate your eyes, making them feel gritty and affecting your vision.

And, while chlorine keeps the water clean, there may still be germs in there. Make sure you stick to facilities you know you can trust, and which regularly monitor water quality.

The same goes for swimming in the sea; the salty water can cause redness and irritation. Avoid prolonged periods of swimming underwater with your eyes open, unless you’re wearing well-fitting goggles. Apply eye drops before and after swimming to keep your eyes lubricated.

3. Watch what you get in your eyes

If you get sun cream in your eye, the chemicals in the lotion can irritate the surface of the eye. Apply your sunscreen carefully, especially around the eye area. Avoid spray-on sunscreens near your face.

If you do get lotion in your eye, don’t panic or rub your eye. Remove your contact lenses (if you’re wearing them) and wash it out as soon as possible with eye drops or flush with clean water for 15-20 minutes.

If you think that sun cream or sand has scratched or caused any damage to your eye seek medical help as soon as possible.

4. Protect your eyes if you’re doing DIY

Summer is a favourite time to completing DIY projects around the house. If you’re working with tools or in a very dusty environment, make sure you wear suitable eye protection which fits snugly on your face. Polycarbonate lenses are best because they’re lightweight and scratch resistant.

If you’re using chemicals, especially outdoors, make sure that you face upwind and away from any sprayer or applicator.

5. Stay comfortable if you’re travelling

If you’re spending a lot of time in the car, make sure you aim the air conditioning vents away from your eyes. This will prevent your eyes becoming dry and uncomfortable.

And if you must travel by plane this summer, be aware of the low cabin pressure and recirculated air. Remember to drink lots of water and, if needed, use drops for dry eyes. If you wear them, make sure to remove your contact lenses on the plane.

Ophthalmology treatments at Benenden Hospital

Our highly respected private Consultants – supported by a team of experienced eye healthcare professionals - can quickly assess and diagnose any eye condition you may have and carry out treatment at our safe and comfortable Eye Unit.

Find out more about our private eye treatments by completing our online enquiry form or by calling our Private Patient team on 01580 363158.

Published on 26 July 2021