Three F.U.N. Tips for Healthy Eyes in the Summer

Dr. Richard Hom

Jul 1, 2012

Three F.U.N. Tips for Healthy Eyes in the Summer

It does not matter if it’s hot or cool, bright or cloudy; everybody has a smile on their face in the summertime. However, whether at work or during free time, people must continue to keep safety in mind during these warmer months, especially as it pertains to their eyes. Here are three easy-to-remember tips to keep in mind to maintain healthy eyes. Think of these as F.U.N. tips that focus on: Flying objects, Ultraviolet light and Nighttime driving.

"F" stands for "Flying objects"

Whether these objects are a baseball or a piece of wood or metal, wearing eyewear will create a protective barrier between your eyes and those objects. Polycarbonate lenses, either in prescription eyeglasses or not, are tough and almost impervious to breakage. These lenses are found in almost all sports glasses and industrial work glasses. In addition, polycarbonate lenses are recognized by the federal government as being the safest lens material for work and play. 

Since polycarbonate lenses are manufactured in nonprescription or prescription strength, they can be inserted into practically any frame. They are also available in almost any kind of lens prescription. Polycarbonates can be further customized with a tint, color and a specific type of lens, such as a single vision or multifocal lens (e.g., a progressive addition or bifocal). The availability and safety features of these lenses are so well known that doctors routinely recommend them for all children and adults.

“U” stands for “Ultraviolet light"

Although the summer sun is a good source of nutrition for plants, and it can even help people maintain a pleasant disposition, exposure to natural sunlight is something that the eyes need to avoid. Ultraviolet light is not visible to the naked eye and it should not be confused with the brightness of the sun. Medical studies suggest that too much ultraviolet light can harm the eyes. While the human skin is tough and can screen out the ultraviolet light from reaching the inner tissues, the human eye has no such tough protective cover. 

The damage from chronic and excessive exposure to ultraviolet light is both visible and invisible to people. Outwardly, unsightly yellowish-red growths called pterygia are a direct result of constant ultraviolet exposure, and so is a persistent redness of the eye. More worrisome are the effects on the inner parts of the eye where cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, two of the most common causes of poor vision, can occur …even with the best eyeglasses.

Recent eye research has found that simple spectacle lenses made up of polycarbonate plastic can screen out nearly all of the harmful forms of ultraviolet light in sunlight. Remember, these are the same lenses that are tough enough to repel flying objects; the protective nature of polycarbonate lenses works even where the lens is clear, too. However, the brightness of the summertime sun, although not medically damaging, can be so uncomfortable that any kind of lens color or tint will improve comfort.

"N" stands for “Nighttime driving”

For many people, the most complex activity in their daily life is operating a motor vehicle. This task is even more challenging if there is any amount of blurred vision that causes a need for corrective lenses (or glasses). Interestingly, the brightness of the daytime sun disguises or counteracts the blurry vision, especially the kind of blurry vision that can be corrected with glasses. The most dangerous time of the day to drive is between sunset and sunrise, where a driver’s performance plummets with even the slightest amount of refractive error. However, using eyeglasses during nighttime driving, if prescribed by an eye doctor, is an easy solution to help address this issue.

If people keep these three “F.U.N.” tips in mind during the summer months, they will not have to wonder if they are doing all they can when it comes to maintaining healthy eyes. They can kick things off right by getting a regular eye examination and talking with their doctor to get additional information on the best methods to use to protect the eyes from the summer sun. These tips are easy to follow and they can help people enjoy the many summers to come.

About the Author

Dr. Richard Hom is the National Optometric Director for WellPoint Vision and is also a retired US Army Officer. He earned a doctorate of Optometry from the University of California at Berkeley and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from San Francisco State University. Dr. Hom has held positions in public policy, program management, print journalism, social media blogging and computer product management. Additionally, he is an advanced communicator and leader in Toastmasters®. He currently resides in Northern California. 


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