As an eye doctor, I see many people in our community needlessly putting their eyes at risk with summertime activities. Here is a list of five simple strategies to protect your eyes from damage now and in the future.
1) Safety glasses: When working in your garden, mowing the lawn, blowing leaves, etc. you should always wear safety glasses. We see patients who have gotten a foreign object in the eye almost every day. Nearly every one of these painful injuries could have been prevented with safety glasses. Often, wrap style sunglasses can double as safety glasses for those bright, sunny days.
2) Sunglasses: Long sunny days by the pool, golf course, or lake are wonderfully relaxing; but they expose your eyes to large doses of UV radiation. Over time, this exposure increases the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. These are two of the most common causes of vision loss. Surgery or injections into the eye may be required if you develop one of these eye diseases. Wearing UV protective, polarized sunglasses can protect your eyes from this threat to your vision.
3) Eat Fresh Vegetables and Fruits: The bounty of the farm is at it’s fullest during the summer. Many studies have shown that eating a diet rich in green leafy vegetables and fruits can drastically reduce the risk of macular degeneration. New data suggests that the risk of glaucoma can also be reduced by up to 70% by eating this type of diet. Take advantage of locally grown during the season as they have the highest density of micronutrients.
4) Wear Goggles: If you swim a lot, the chlorine content (or high salt levels in salt water pools) can irritate the delicate surface of the eye called the cornea. As you swim laps, be sure to wear goggles. They will keep the water off of your cornea. If you are lounging in the pool but not putting your face in the water much, you are better served by wearing sunglasses. Remember, water reflects sunlight and UV radiation into the eye. Be sure your sunglasses are big enough to provide adequate coverage for both direct and reflected sunlight.
5) Avoid contact lenses in the water: Contact lenses will absorb chlorine, bacteria and any other noxious substance that might be in the water if you open your eyes under water. The single most dangerous type of eye infection is caused by an organism in water called acanthamoeba. If you wear contact lenses and open your eyes under water, it can get onto the contact lens and penetrate into the cornea. It usually results in blindness. If you think your contacts have been contaminated by water, dispose of them immediately and start with a fresh pair the next day. A red, painful eye should be considered serious and warrants a call to your eye doctor.
By taking these simple steps, you can help insure a lifetime of good vision!
Dr. John Henahan is a board certified, fellowship trained doctor of optometry with a passion for disease prevention living with his wife and two children right here in Peachtree City. You may call his office at 770-487-0667 or visit SpecEye.com to learn more