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Our top tips for summer eye health

Whilst proactive eye protection is crucial all year round, our tendency to spend more time out and about in summer means it’s particularly important this time of year.

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation may have a serious impact on your eyes – along with sunlight, chlorine and other factors common to summer activities.

At Ian Donald Optometrist, we’ve been caring for the Manly community for decades – and we encourage proactive eye care for children, adults and seniors. Here’s what you should know about summer eye health.

Understanding UV

UV and sunlight are not one and the same. As the Cancer Council explains, the sun produces three types of energy: visible light (which we see as sunlight), infrared radiation (the heat we feel) and UV radiation (which we can’t see or feel). Ultraviolet A (UVA) is a longer wavelength ray associated with skin ageing, while ultraviolet B (UVB) is responsible for skin burning.

UV is affected by altitude, location, cloud cover and other factors. It does not align with temperature, so while it tends to be higher in summer, it’s prevalent all year round.

It can be problematic even on overcast or cooler days, and there are other sources, such as solariums.

UV is not necessarily strongest when sunlight is strongest, so it’s important to check the UV index on weather reports or apps – and to take precautions every time you step outside.

UV and your eye health

Anyone spending long periods outdoors is at risk of UV damage. Potential effects include:

  • Photokeratitis – An eye surface burn caused by UV reflections off water, sand, ice or snow; affects the cornea and conjunctiva (cell layer covering the whites of your eye) and may not be immediately noticeable. Symptoms include pain, red eyes, twitching, blurred vision, light sensitivity and headaches.
  • Cataracts – UV radiation is a direct cause of cataracts, which may develop slowly over many years.
  • Pterygium (also known as Surfer’s Eye) – a condition where tissue grows over the cornea affecting vision; UV exposure, particularly during childhood, is thought to be the main cause.
  • Cancer – may develop on eyelids or even the surface of the eye.

Choosing the right sunglasses

For both adults and children, the best defence against UV damage is to wear a broad-brimmed hat and a good quality pair of sunglasses.

Sunglasses should block both UVA and UVB rays. Polarised lenses offer additional protection for light sensitivity and may be a good option for post-cataract surgery patients. Photochromic lenses adapt to changing light conditions and darken in sunlight. Or we might recommend wraparound styles for those who work outside or spend long periods of time outdoors.

At Ian Donald Optometrist, we have a full range of prescription and non-prescription sunglasses. Our range includes Tom Ford, Oakley, Maui Jim and Ray Ban prescription glasses for stylish, comfortable and premium eye protection.

Other tips for summer eye health

Sunglasses are the key part of summer eye protection, but there are other steps you can take to protect your family’s eyes:

  • Keep an eye on the UV index and remember that you are also at risk on cloudy and cooler days
  • Wear goggles while swimming to protect your eyes from chlorine
  • Never look directly into the sun, as this can damage the retina
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes from both sun and windy conditions, which may cause dry eye
  • Keep dry eyes moist with optometrist recommended eye drops
  • Give up smoking, a risk factor for cataracts, macular degeneration and other eye health issues
  • Schedule regular eye examinations and an eye test for your children prior to starting school.

Summer eye health is important, so please contact us for your next appointment.

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