Happy woman with glasses

Swimming, hiking, beach parties, fun in the sun . . . summer activities are the best, but they can definitely take a toll on your eyes. Here’s how you can protect your eyes from seasonal stress!

Avoid UV Radiation

Sunlight contains two types of potentially harmful rays: UVA and UVB.  UVB, in particular, can cause permanent damage to our eyes. UV rays are always present in daylight, whatever the weather.

Be aware that your UV exposure increases:

  • the closer you get to the equator
  • the higher your altitude
  • any time you’re near a reflective surface like snow, water, or sand
  • between the hours of about 10AM and 2PM

What’s the best defense?

1. Wear a hat.

Choose something opaque with a wide brim to shade your eyes.

2. Wear Sunglasses

A good pair of sunglasses is an essential part of summertime eye protection. There’s no correlation between lens color and UV defense: darker ones aren’t necessarily better. Look for a label that guarantees 99% – 100% protection. Wear your sunglasses any time you’re outdoors, especially on overcast days. Remember to wear UV-protective goggles whenever you’re surfing, sailing, or enjoying other sports on water or sand.

Protect Your Eyes From Dryness

Dry eyes are uncomfortable. They may cause blurry vision. Plus you’ll be tempted to rub them, which can lead to irritation, infection, and even injury.

3. Use Artificial Tears

Eye drops are a fast and effective way to soothe dry eyes. If you’re using prescription drops for chronic dryness or to relieve inflammation, remember to apply them on schedule even when you’re feeling fine.

4. Add an omega-3 fatty acid supplement to your diet.

5. Stay hydrated.

Be sure you’re drinking enough water, especially when you’re out in the sun. Limit caffeine and alcohol.

6. Get enough rest and limit screen time.

Dry eyes may be a symptom of fatigue.

7. Check your prescriptions.

Some medications can cause or exacerbate dry eyes. If you use antihistamines, diuretics, or sleeping pills, talk with your doctor about reducing dosage or switching brands.

8. Think twice before cranking up the A/C.

Cooling, heating, and recirculating strip humidity out of the air.

9. Use a humidifier.

If treated air is drying out your eyes, a humidifier may help bring moisture back in.

Defend Your Eyes Against Irritants and Allergens

Airborne irritants are always around, but they can be worse in summer.

10. Wear wraparound sunglasses.

These are great for shielding your eyes from UV rays, and they’ll also protect you against dust, sand, wind, and spray.

11. Don’t smoke.

12. Wear high-quality goggles when swimming in chlorinated water.

Incorporate eye-healthy foods into your summertime diet.

Macular degeneration (a gradual decline in vision, also called “AMD”) is associated with aging, but that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. The National Eye Institute’s Age-Related Eye Disease Study found that certain nutrients are good for your eyes and may actively protect against AMD:

  • zinc
  • copper
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • zeaxanthin
  • lutein
  • copper
  • beta carotene

Cold-water fish (like salmon and sardines), dark leafy greens (like kale, broccoli, and spinach), and brightly colored vegetables and fruit (like red peppers and berries) are all delicious sources of nutrients that protect and support healthy eyes.

With the proper eye tips, you can enjoy your summer and protect your eyes! Have additional questions about your eye health? Schedule an appointment with Minnesota Eye Consultants!