April is Sports Eye Safety Month. This is a time to protect the eyes during outdoor activities such as sports and exercise. However, what you do at home is just as important for your eye protection as what you do outside your home. Here are a few simple tips to keep your eyes healthy with glasses, contacts or how you can simply avoid infection-causing germs!
AApril is Sports Eye Safety Month. However, it is also National Eye Protection Month. You protect your eyes both through proper eye protection in sports and also eye protection through the specific types of glasses you wear indoors, outdoors and during the season you are in. Even washing your hands is a form of eye protection because it helps you avoid infections and viruses. Knowing how to protect your eyes is the “why” of setting apart an entire month for eye protection awareness.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that those between 0-18 have the highest number of eye emergency visits to a hospital from either an injury or medical condition. The sun also contributes to a large amount of cases of eye damage due to UV rays. Some of those cases include cataracts, macular degeneration, photokeratitis (or temporary vision loss), and more. Simply going indoors doesn’t mean you are protected any less from these eye problems, as blue light rays from digital and electronic lights and devices can cause the same diseases and disorders, most commonly macular degeneration. These problems all stem from not wearing proper eye protection!
UV radiation can lead to a myriad of eye problems that are quite serious. Vision loss can happen immediately from looking directly at the sun. Permanent vision loss is immediate in some patients if they look at the sun during an eclipse or similar celestial event. This is due to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Ultraviolet (UV) rays lie in the ultraviolet section of the visible light spectrum, or the lights that we can see with the naked eye.
Light flows on a wave, and depending on how close together the lightwaves are, the amount of energy they carry will vary. UV rays have a very short wavelength, so a ton of energy hits your eyes very quickly compared to other types of light. Because of its intensity, it damages the delicate nerves and cells of your eyes, leading to vision loss.
Sunglasses can provide you all the eye protection you need to block out harmful UV rays, however, you don’t just want to buy any type of sunglasses. You want to choose sunglasses that protect you from 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays. The sunglasses that do this will have a label on them telling you so. Many labels say they protect against “UV 400”. This means the glasses block out all harmful UV rays. There are many sunglasses out there that are “fashion” glasses and do not block out harmful rays—they only provide tinted lenses. You can only purchase proper, protective eyewear through professionals, and our office is one area that has this eyewear.
Many people think that they only have to be careful about protecting their eyes during the spring and summer months. However, winter is a prime season for vision damage caused by the sun. Many believe that because wintertime is generally overcast, then they are protected from the sun. In reality, your eyes can become even more damaged in the winter. UV ways still go through the clouds because they do not work the same as visible light rays you can see. Those rays hit the white snow, bouncing back at your eyes.
Those bouncing rays—especially with bright sun reflection—can even cause snow blindness. This is when your eyes become sunburned without proper eye protection, making them red, gritty, sore and you can even lose your vision for a time.
Winter is a popular time for activities such as sledding, skiing, snowboarding, and playing outside. Make sure to wear goggles to protect your eyes from the sun’s rays (even if it’s overcast) as well as harsh winds and the cold that can dry out your eyes. If you are indoors, invest in computer glasses, or glasses that block out blue light from digital and electronic devices. This will help you avoid damage similar to that caused by UV rays as well as headaches, eye strain, dry eyes and other eye issues that are common in the winter.
Want to avoid illnesses and viruses? One of the easiest ways is to wash your hands! This is the best method to remove viruses and bacteria from your hands that cause infections when your eyes are touched. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wetting your hands, lathering them with soap and washing for 20 seconds. Rinse your hands and dry them and you reduce your risk for many health issues and eye issues. Don’t share makeup or other eye products with another person. If you use eye drops, avoid touching the eye dropper to your eye. Avoid touching your eyes unless you absolutely need to. All of these measures will help you avoid infections. When you do feel that something is wrong with your eyes, make sure to schedule an eye exam.
We recommend that everyone receive an eye exam at least every two years per the recommendation of the American Optometric Association. For patients with common or complex eye conditions, they should receive an eye exam each year. This is a time to learn more about your eyes and one of the best ways to ensure your eyes are healthy. To schedule your appointment or to learn more about protecting your eyes in winter, call Peepers Optical at 303-333-2800!