With summertime upon us, people are no doubt looking forward to spending more time outdoors, taking part in seasonal sporting events or working on back-yard projects. But unfortunately, most people don’t realize that the summer months can be particularly hard on the eyes. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) the occurrence of eye injuries increases as the weather gets warmer, reaching a peak in the month of July and then slowly declining in the fall. Moreover, these incidents of external trauma are only the tip of the iceberg. Warm temperatures and outdoor activities subject the eyes to a multitude of potentially dangerous conditions, ranging from windborne dust and pollen to the extremely damaging ultraviolent light of the sun. Here are some things that you should look out for, and some helpful precautions you should take, to keep your eyes healthy during the summer months.
Sports-related injuries are the single most common cause of eye trauma in children 11 to 14 years of age, and the majority of these are the result of blunt force trauma from either a ball or elbow. Serious impacts like these could potentially cause a detached retina, which if left untreated could result in permanent vision loss. Fortunately, studies have found that more than 90% of these eye injuries could be prevented simply through the use of protective eyewear,
Fast moving particles of dust, sand, wood, or plastic can often get blown into the eye during fast-paced summer activities. This is usually only a minor concern, since the eye naturally produces tears to wash foreign material out. However, in some cases this debris may cause a small scratch on the cornea. Initially such a scratch is only irritating, but if it becomes infected it may evolve into a corneal ulcer, an open sore on the eye that produces redness, blurred vision, light sensitivity, and intense pain. Corneal ulcers generally need to be treated promptly with prescription antibiotic or antifungal eye drops.
Even being out in the sun for a short time without any eye protection may result in a condition called photokeratitis, a painful but temporary inflammation of the cornea somewhat similar to sunburn on the surface of the eye. More seriously, long-term overexposure to ultraviolet radiation has also been linked to the development of certain types of cataracts, and some research suggests it may also play a role in development of macular degeneration. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends wearing sunglasses that block out wavelengths up to 400 nanometers (nm), which effectively reflects 99-100 % of both UV-A and UV-B light. Sunglasses which meet this requirement are usually labeled as “UV 400” and are the best way to prevent long term sun damage.
If you are having trouble with your eyes, or if you would like to schedule an annual eye examination to determine what you need to keep your vision sharp, please contact Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons to schedule an appointment with Dr. William Segal or Dr. Marc Lay today. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more information on how to keep your vision healthy.