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Always Take Care to Protect Your Eyes

Did you know your skin is not the only part of your body in danger of being burned by the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays? Your eyes can be badly damaged as well if they are not properly protected.

According to eye care professionals, several eye problems have been linked to overexposure to the sun’s UV rays – including blurred vision, cataracts, retina damage, and macular degeneration. These diseases can take many years to develop, but each time a person is in the sun without eye protection, risks for these serious disorders increase.

Just like your skin, your eyes can be burned by the sun, even when it is cloudy and cold outside. Protecting your eyes can be easy and inexpensive. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B rays any time you are going to be outdoors during daylight hours. Make sure the lenses are perfectly matched in color and free of scratches or distortion. People of every age from babies to the elderly need to take eye care precautions whenever they are outdoors.

Do not look directly at the sun. There is one day this summer when looking at the sun is of particular concern. North America will experience a solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. Looking straight at the sun, even when it is partially covered by the moon, can cause serious eye damage or blindness.

To help maintain healthy vision overall, adults and children should have regular comprehensive eye examinations. Eye exams are an important part of finding eye diseases early and preserving your vision.

Other ways to protect your vision include the following:

  • Eat a healthy diet, including leafy greens such as spinach or kale, and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Know your family’s eye health history.
  • Quit smoking or never start.
  • Use protective eyewear to avoid injury.

There is a lot to see while you are having fun in the sun – so do it in a safe way. Protect yourself and your eyes.

Thomas M. Miller, M.D.
State Health Officer

(July 2017)

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Page last updated: July 6, 2017