While ultraviolet rays can damage your eyes any time of year, the summer
months are especially harsh. Read to understand what damage can occur
and what you can do to ensure your vision remains strong and healthy:
Why is summer especially hard on the eyes?
No matter where you are on the planet, the summer season in each hemisphere
means the sun’s rays are hitting the earth at a steep angle, resulting
in longer hours of daylight and higher temperatures, but also an increased
risk of damage to your eyes. Also in the summer, the sun is especially
strong near the poles and equator, so if you’re planning to travel
further south for a tropical vacation, eye protection is critical.
In addition to sun strength, the length of time spent outdoors generally
increases during the summer months. Both water and sand will reflect the
sun’s rays, increasing the amount of light hitting your eyes (and skin).
What kind of vision issues can be caused by over-exposure to ultraviolet rays?
Not only are your eyelids and the sensitive skin around your eyes vulnerable
to several types of cancers, your vision can also suffer short-term and
long-term damage from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Some examples include:
Cataracts: When the lenses of your eye become cloudy and distorted, making it harder
to see clearly. Over-exposure to UV rays can increase a person’s
risk of developing cataracts.
Macular degeneration: When cells in the middle part of your retina die off, causing loss of
central vision, essential for activities like reading and driving. Sun
damage can accelerate macular degeneration, so care should be taken to
protect the eyes.
Photokeratitis: Also known as an “eye sunburn,” Photokeratitis occurs when
the cornea is damaged by overexposure to UV rays. While it usually heals
quickly with rest and eye drops, this condition can be especially painful
and cause permanent damage to vision if left untreated.
Who is at risk?
Certain medications that increase sensitivity to light can make your eyes
more susceptible to damage from UV rays. Antihistamines, some blood pressure
medications and some antidepressants (tricyclics) increase an individual’s
likelihood of suffering from both skin and eye damage from UV exposure.
Additionally, people who spend more time outdoors during the summer are
at higher risk. Limiting time in the sun during peak hours (between 11:00
a.m. and 2:00 p.m.) can help reduce exposure and give your strained eyes
a break from the intensity of summer UV rays.
Are sunglasses the best protection?
Sunglasses are not just a fashion accessory. They are essential for every
individual to ensure sun damage is minimized. Choose a pair that offers
100% UVA/UVB protection—this means that no matter what kind of lens
material the glasses are made from (plastic or glass), they block out
100% of both types of ultraviolet light. Polarized lenses are a great
option, especially for individuals that are sensitive to bright light
or at higher risk.
What else can you do to minimize ocular damage during the summer months?
Much like protecting your skin, your clothing can help. Wear a hat or visor
when outdoors and the sun is at its brightest. Seek shade during the most
intense hours of the day and take indoor breaks to assist with eye fatigue.
And while it may seem common sense, no one should ever stare directly
into the sun, even when wearing eye protection. If you are experiencing
eye discomfort you think may be related to sun exposure, such as pain
or redness, blurry vision, swelling or color changes, it is important
to seek medical treatment or contact your doctor. Specialist care may
While most symptoms of sun exposure will resolve in a day or two, CaroMont
Health Urgent Care locations offer extended hours for the treatment of
minor illness and injuries, like colds, ear infections and sprained ankles.
You can reserve your space online at one of the convenient practice locations: