With summer coming, athletes will spend more time outdoors enjoying their sport and leisure activities, so summer eye protection is a must. Many people risk eye injury with increased exposure to the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays. Athletes of all ages need to take the proper precautions to protect their eyes from the summer sun.
Most people understand the need to protect their skin from harmful UV rays, but few realize that their eyes are just as vulnerable and also need protection. Because damage from UV exposure is cumulative, the eyes are at great risk for developing vision-threatening conditions, such as cataracts, macular degeneration and thickening of the white parts of the eyes. Even the delicate skin surrounding the eyes can be damaged by prolonged sun exposure, and it is susceptible to forms of skin cancer.
One study showed that by the age of 15, up to 80 percent of the population is already showing some UV-related eye damage. Thus, it’s critical to take the proper steps for eye protection.
Here are some everyday steps that athletes (and spectators) can take to lessen the threat of UV damage:
- Check the UV index daily and plan accordingly
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and to combat the effects of exposure to the sun
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat to reduce exposure
- Consider adaptive lense sunglasses like Transitions to protect your eyes from distracting glare and the cumulative impact of the sun’s harmful UV rays. Make sure they are impact resistant
- If you find sunglasses uncomfortable or distracting during a game, at least wear them on the sidelines to reduce exposure
- Eye black will reduce glare, but will not eliminate UV damage, so follow the above guidelines even when wearing eye black
Although this article focuses on “summer eye protection,” remember that eye protection is appropriate all year long. UV rays from the sun are strongest in the summer, but they are present all the time—even on cloudy and overcast days. Be sure to keep your eyes protected throughout the year so your vision is in perfect shape when you reach your full athletic potential.