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Protecting Your Eyes During Summer Activities: Expert Tips

Summertime offers ample opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, but it also introduces potential hazards for your eyes. Dr. Masih Ahmed, an ophthalmologist and assistant professor at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, provides essential advice to safeguard your vision during the sunny season.

Shielding Your Eyes from the Sun

One of the simplest ways to protect your eyes from the sun is by wearing sunglasses. Dr. Ahmed warns that strong sunlight exposure can cause pterygium (growths within the eye), increase the risk of early cataracts, worsen macular degeneration, and even lead to eyelid cancer due to ultraviolet (UV) light exposure.

"When choosing sunglasses, ensure the lenses are 100% UV blocking and ideally wrap around the face to prevent light from entering from the sides," Ahmed advises in a Baylor news release. Polarized lenses are particularly beneficial as they reduce glare, making them ideal for water activities.

Sunscreen Safety

The American Cancer Society recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, reapplied every two hours. In addition to sunscreen, wearing hats and long-sleeved shirts and seeking shade can further protect your skin and eyes.

"In warm temperatures where sweating is inevitable, select a sunscreen that doesn't run into your eyes," says Ahmed. If sunscreen does get into your eyes, rinse them with sterile saline or fresh water to alleviate discomfort.

Swimming Precautions

While swimming in pools, lakes, or oceans is a popular way to cool off, it can expose your eyes to bacterial, fungal, and other infections. Dr. Ahmed stresses the importance of using swim goggles to protect your eyes from pathogens like acanthamoeba, a parasite that can cause severe eye infections.

"Avoid opening your eyes underwater, especially in still bodies of water, to reduce infection risks," Ahmed advises. He also cautions against wearing contact lenses while swimming, as they can absorb harmful microorganisms and facilitate infections through micro-abrasions in the eye. If contact lenses are necessary, use disposable ones that can be discarded after swimming.

Lawn Care Safety

Mowing the lawn can present a danger to your eyes from debris such as pebbles. Dr. Ahmed recommends wearing goggles while mowing to prevent potential injuries. Additionally, washing your hands after gardening can help avoid irritation from plants like milkweed.

By following these expert tips, you can enjoy a safer summer while protecting your eyes from potential hazards.

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