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Ask An Eye Doc: Can Your Eyes Get Sunburned?

The simple answer is YES! VSP network eye doctor, Jennifer Tsai, OD from New York City reminds us “our skin and our eyes are organs. This makes them susceptible to the elements, which mean that like our skin, our eyes can become sunburned from prolonged exposure.” But you can’t put sunscreen on your eyes, right? “Of course not,” she tells us. “There are, however, simple things you can do to prevent photokeratitis, which is essentially damage to the cornea from sunlight exposure.” Dr. Tsai also shares that cataracts and macular degeneration are some of the other long-term issues linked to prolonged UV exposure.

3 Ideas for Protecting Your Eyes in the Summer

  • SUNGLASSES! Wearing protective eyewear is an essential for summer. There are a lot of great stylish sunglasses to choose from that can protect your eyes while keeping you looking great. Larger frames will always protect more of your face so consider oversized styles for prolonged exposure. Also, when shopping for sunglasses, the most important feature to keep in mind is full UV coverage. You want to look for a sticker that says UV 400 which covers UVA and UVB lights or 100% UV protection.
  • Large brim hats are very much in style right now. When outside and exposed to the sun, wear one that shades your eyes.
  • While at the pool, beach, lake, or river, consider an umbrella to create a shaded spot for yourself and your family.

Don’t Forget About Those Overcast Days

Even on days when you don’t see the sun, your eyes are exposed to UV rays. Dr. Tsai says, “wind, glare, and ultraviolet radiation exposure are most prevalent in the winter. Your overall exposure is nearly doubled when shoveling, skiing, or snowboarding!” So regardless of the time of year, sporting the right protective eyewear is important for your overall eye health. Avoid the short and long-term effects of UV damage (and look stylish) by simply throwing on a pair of shades year-round.

By Ryan W.

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