Summer Sun Exposure Your vision - it's one of your most precious possessions and well worth protecting from anything which could take it away or compromise it over time. As the summer season approaches, adults, teens and children need to protect their valuable eyes from the damaging effects of the sun.

How could a little sunshine hurt my eyes?

The sun's UV rays, in particular UV-A and UV-B rays, cause short-term and long-term eye problems.

One of the most common, but not well-publicized, conditions is photokeratitis. The American Optometric Association says photokeratitis is very much like the skin sunburn people suffer from when they play, lay down or take a walk on a sunny day.

The sun's rays are especially powerful during the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and if individuals do not wear eye protection at this time, the result is photokeratitis with its:

  • extreme light sensitivity
  • eye redness
  • tearing
  • irritated, gritty feeling to the eyes
  • blurring
  • headache
  • temporary loss of vision

While photokeratitis generally resolves without permanent problems, sometimes the burn is so serious as to require medical treatment with antibiotic drops and other curative measures.

In addition, sunshine, even when reflected off water, windows, shiny surfaces, sand, and side walks, has a cumulative effect. In other words, lots of sun over time equals vision damage, especially in the form of cataracts (cloudy lenses) and macular degeneration ( a deterioration of the structure at the back of the eye which sends vision information to the brain).

Whose eyes are at risk from sun exposure?

The answer to this question is everyone's eyes are. Young and old alike must guard against excessive sun exposure. In addition, people who spend a lot of time outdoors because of sports or occupations have a higher risk of sun damage to their eyes.

Take summer sun precautions.

A bit of common sense goes a long way in protecting your vision. Quality sunglasses with full UV-A and UV-B protection are a must. Lenses should also be balanced in color and filter out 75 percent or more of visible light. Also, sunglasses should wrap around the face so bright light does not infiltrate from the sides.

Another simple help is wearing a hat with a wide brim. Be sure to duck into the shade as much as possible, too, especially during those daytime hours when the sun's rays are at their strongest.

Additionally, adequate hydration is critical. If you feel thirsty, your eyes are craving moisture, too. So be sure to carry that water bottle, and drink from it regularly.

Prevent eye problems with routine check-ups.

The optometrists at Linsey Eyecare in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania urge you protect your eyes, and those of your loved ones, from the damaging effects of the sun. From youth to old age, everyone should get a comprehensive eye exam to assess visual acuity and the health of the eyes, too.

Contact Linsey Eyecare with your questions about vision health and to make an appointment for an eye exam. Call (610) 373-2300.


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