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The Eyes Have It: Take Steps to Protect Your Vision

Sports and summer activities demand protection of joints and skin, but what about the less obvious damage that can happen to the eyes?

Since leisure activities take place outdoors during the summertime, it is especially important to protect vision from injury and the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation may increase the risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and growths on the eye, including cancer.

Protect your eyes from the sun by following these simple tips:
  • Wear sunglasses, and introduce this habit to your children as early as possible. Make sure your sunglasses block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
  • Choose sunglass styles that wrap all the way around your temples so the sun’s rays can’t enter from the side.
  • Wear a hat in addition to your sunglasses. Broad-brimmed styles provide the best protection for your eyes.
  • Don’t be fooled by clouds: the sun’s rays can pass through the haze of a gloomy day.
  • Never look directly at the sun. Looking directly at the sun at any time, including during an eclipse, can lead to solar retinopathy, which is damage to the eye’s retina caused by exposure to solar radiation.
  • Take special care at peak sun times. It’s best to avoid exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest.
  • Sun damage to eyes can occur any time during the year, not just in the summertime—so be sure to wear sunglasses when you’re outside.

Dr. Dodson checks a patient’s eyes for possible signs of UV damage.

Sun exposure isn’t the only danger. Sports enthusiasts must take special care to protect their eyes from injury. It’s estimated that 90% of eye injuries are preventable.

Choose eye protection that meets the American Society of Testing and Materials ( standards or that passes the Canadian Standards Association ( racquet sports standard to fully protect your vision.