Taking steps to protect your eyes is something you should be mindful of year-round. However, summertime and outdoor activities can present added risks. Here are some helpful tips on how to protect your eyes and keep them healthy this summer.
Summer holidays mean fireworks. But, are you aware of the potential eye damage that can occur? Every year, children and adults are seen in hospital emergency rooms with fireworks-related injuries, most of which are preventable. Sparklers cause more than 40 percent of these injuries.
Studies have found that one in six fireworks-related injuries results in permanent vision loss. Every year, 400 Americans lose their sight in one or both eyes due to fireworks. It is estimated that 30 percent of all fireworks injuries occur in children under age 15. Potential eye injuries include corneal abrasions, chemical and thermal burns, rupture of the globe, and retinal detachment. Almost half of those injured are bystanders, making it important for everyone to take safety precautions, even if not handling the fireworks.
Protective eyewear should always be worn when handling fireworks of any kind. Children should never be allowed to light or play with fireworks unsupervised. If you are close to or handling fireworks, be aware of your surroundings, and keep a close eye on children observers.
If an eye injury does occur, seek medical attention immediately. Do not rub the eye, rinse with water or saline, apply pressure to the eye, or attempt to remove any firework piece or other foreign body from the eye. These can all cause further and more severe eye damage. Call 911 or go immediately to your local emergency room.
Sunglasses are extremely important for summertime eye health and safety. Ultraviolet rays can cause cataracts, macular degeneration and corneal burns, among others, and can affect the eyes even on cloudy days. Look for sunglasses that protect from 99 percent to 100 percent UVA and UVB rays. Wraparounds offer more protection by decreasing the UV entering from the side. For those who spend summer days on the lake, polarization is a must. This reduces the glare reflecting off the water, giving clearer, sharper vision.
Lens color is a personal preference and does not matter if the UV protection is there. Children should wear sunglasses while at the pool or on the water, as well. And, for those children and adults playing summer outdoor sports, such as golf and baseball, sunglasses are highly recommended.
By Dr. Jennifer Dattolo, contributing writer and optometrist at Eyes on Towne Lake.