A report, based on a survey of more than 10,000 adults, revealed that 34 percent of adults have experienced symptoms of prolonged UV exposure, such as eye irritation, trouble seeing, and red or swollen eyes.
One may not always realise, but we are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun every day. UV radiation may be invisible to the eye; however, it can cause damage in as little as 15 minutes. Over time UV radiation can severely harm the eyes, causing irreversible damage.
Whether you are outside enjoying a 30 and above degree heat, or if it is a cloudy day with hints of the sun hiding away, your eyes still need to be protected.
1. Attend regular eye check-ups
Frequently going for an eye test will allow you to pick up any issues with your eyes. What you may think is ‘normal’ itchy eyes may mean that you have dry eyes and should receive treatment. Try this online dry eye consultation and check your symptoms against it. Speak to your optometrist or an ophthalmologist if you experience consistent eye strain or pain – the sooner it gets checked, the better you can prevent further damage. If you notice your eyes are more sensitive to the light or your vision seems to be changing, speak to a professional. They are the best to help you and provide you with any advice you need regarding what to do next.
2. Plan based on your itinerary
If you are the person whose life revolves around a schedule and constantly planning what to do, make sure your eye health is part of your to-do list. If you are spending more time outdoors, make sure you keep a wide brim or regular hat with you and carry sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun. If you plan on swimming and you have sensitive eyes, ensure there are goggles available when you swim to keep the chlorine from irritating the eyes further. Keep eye drops with you if you regularly wear contact lenses just in case your eyes become dry. Different environments often call for different needs.
3. Drive only at certain times of the day
During the day, there are times when the sun shine’s its brightest – usually between noon and 4 pm. At these times, stay indoors and avoid driving. However, this may not always be possible. If you must be out during these times, be sure to wear your sunglasses throughout your journey and pull down your sun visors to keep the glare away.
4. Practice healthy eye care habits
It takes 21 days to develop a habit – if you create a healthy one, it will become second nature for you and will no longer feel like a chore. Ensuring that you always carry UVA/UVB-protected sunglasses with you is essential so that you never squint when outside on a hot summer’s day. Avoid looking directly into the sun and seek shade wherever possible. A healthy dose of the sun when your skin and eyes are protected is never a bad thing, but when you spend prolonged times outdoors, seek shade frequently.
5. Knowledge up!
The best way to understand how to protect your and your family’s eyes is to understand exactly what causes damage. You may know by now that ultraviolet (UV) rays are caused by the sun and can cause damage to the eyes, but did you know that they are present all year long? Yes, even on a cloudy day. Although they are strongest in the spring and summer months, giving your eyes all-year protection is best practice.
Your eyes are an essential part of your body – take care of them daily!
About Dr. Sachin Bawa
Sachin Bawa is a founder of Dr. Sachin Bawa Cataract and Vision Clinic. He is a qualified ophthalmic surgeon for more than 9 years. He holds a medical degree from the University of Witswatersrand which he completed in 2004.