Eye doctors are increasingly concerned about the negative impact on the eyes of ultraviolet light. It’s been linked to higher risks of flash burn (eye sunburn) as well as developing cataracts and/or macular degeneration, serious eye conditions which can lead to blindness. Summer is when the eyes are most exposed to UV light, as well as other seasonal threats, particularly in countries like Australia where it’s the season for outdoor adventures and beach sand between the toes, according to Sydney-based behavioural optometrist, fellow of the International Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control (FIAOMC), and founder of the Smart Vision Optometry (SVO) system, Gary Rodney.
Rodney says it’s very important for everyone to take care of their eyes in summer, but even more so for children’s eyes to be protected at all times as the impact of seasonal threats can be far stronger on their young eyes, which are still developing.
Avoiding UV Exposure and Eye Sunburn
Eye sunburn, caused by overexposure to UV rays, can lead to inflammation of the cornea which covers the front of the eyes. This can result in sore, red, and teary eyes, along with some itchiness, increased sensitivity to light, and slightly blurred vision, and could last for a day or two.
Children are the most at risk, and the most vulnerable, as not only are a child’s ocular lenses not able to filter out UV light as well as their parents’ eyes do, but they are more likely to be excused to the light as, according to the WHO, 80% of people’s exposure to UV light occurs before they turn 18.
While this doesn’t lower the importance of parents being careful about their own UV exposure, Rodney says it does stress the need for them to ensure their children and teens get into the habit of wearing hats with a wide rim, as well as sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection, when outdoors in summer even on cloudy days. They should also be taught to avoid exposure to the sun when it’s rays are strongest, like in the hours around midday, and when the sun is rising or setting. And they should never look directly at the sun to avoid permanent damage to the eyes.
Protecting Eyes from Other Summer Threats
Don’t Forget the Water: Dry eyes, usually caused by the eyes’ inability to create enough tears to lubricate them, lead to eye strain, headaches, blurred vision and difficulties focusing. Often associated with too much screentime, an in-door lifestyle, and too little blinking, it can also be caused by dehydration. Making sure that water is available, and consumed, when outdoors under the summer sun is another must, according to Rodney.
Seasonal allergies: These can cause similar symptoms to the ones experienced by those with dry eye. However, the allergies are often more easily recognised because of the swelling and tearing that develops along with the redness, itching, irritation, and blurring. Rodney recommends that those who know they have allergies, make sure they have the correct treatments available at all times.
Wearing Goggles in a Pool: There are a number of reasons why Rodney suggests that those who don’t consider it’s summer if they don’t take a plunge in the pool every now and then, should Wear Goggles when swimming. Firstly, it’s to stop the eyes from being irritated by chemicals like chlorine and others found in pool water, but also from bacteria that swims alongside those cooling off in the water, and which can easily affect the eyes
Eye Protection When Doing Summer Chores: When doing a touch or two of DIY renovating, or pushing the lawnmower around the garden, it’s important to wear protective eyewear, and preferably wrap around ones that shield the sides of the eyes, in order to prevent accidents that could lead to eye damage, or wood chips, twigs and other objects which might fly or get blown into the eyes.
For more information about the myopia epidemic, its treatment and management, and more importantly what you can do to prevent it, or to make an appointment, visit the Smart Vision website: Optometrists Sydney: Optometry Services For Children and Adults | Smart Vision; for specific information about Myopia treatment and prevention visit Myopia Prevention: Solutions, Control And Treatment In Sydney; and for detailed information about Myopia Treatment visit Orthokeratology In Sydney: The Non Surgical Alternative.
To book an appointment for a thorough eye check-up, click here or Call the Bondi clinic on (02) 9365 5047 or the Mosman clinic on (02) 9969 1600.