Staying safe: summer eye health tips

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    As South Africa’s festive season begins and beckons us to its beautiful berg, bush and beaches, we must remember to pay attention to an often-neglected aspect of health, which is our eyes. The summer’s radiant sunlight has powerful ultraviolet rays that can pose a risk to our vision if proper care and precautions are not taken. Discover more about summer eye health from Bloom Financial Services and leading healthcare provider, Momentum Health4Me. We explore the reasons why it’s necessary to protect your eyes and offer practical tips to safeguard your vision. From the importance of UV-blocking sunglasses to hydration methods and proactive eye care habits, discover how simple yet effective measures can shield your eyes from seasonal challenges.

    Importance of taking protective measures for summer eye health

    It’s essential to take summer eye health precautions to protect your eyes. South African summers are fierce. The Cancer Association of South Africa have confirmed that South Africans are at higher risk for chronic exposure to harmful UV radiation. In addition to skin cancer, the sun’s intense rays can also pose a significant threat to our eyesight. This is because prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation increases the risk of eye damage, including cataracts, macular degeneration, and other vision-related issues. 

    Some of the serious types of eye-related health risks and complications that can arise from sun damage include: 

    • UV radiation damage. Prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays can damage the cornea, lens or retina of the eye. This can, in turn, lead to the development of cataracts and early macular degeneration. 
    • Cornea sunburn. This is similar to skin sunburn and is caused by excessive exposure to UV rays. Painful inflammation of the cornea can result, which could even lead to temporary vision loss. 
    • Pterygium. The UV rays can also contribute to the development of a growth on the eye’s surface, called a pterygium. This can cause irritation, redness and vision impairment. 
    • Increased risk of cataracts. Prolonged UV exposure is a significant risk factor for the development and progression of cataracts, which is clouding on the eye lens. This leads to blurred vision and eventual blindness. 
    • Macular degeneration. UV rays contribute to the development of conditions that affect the central part of the retina, which can lead to vision loss. This will cause difficulties with tasks like reading and visual recognition. 
    • Dry eye disease. Harsh sunlight and dry air contribute to the evaporation of moisture in the eyes, leading to dry eyes, which can cause extreme discomfort and irritation.

    Tips for protecting your eyes over summer

    Try incorporating these sensible measures when it comes to the best types of summer eye health methods:

    1. UV blocking

    One of the best ways to ensure good summer eye health is to minimise prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Get UV protection by using sunglasses or shielding your eyes with hats and visors. Choose sunglasses that provide 100% UVB protection. If you’re unsure about which sunglasses are best for eye care, consult with a Momentum Health4Me optometrist from our optometry network. Wear wide-brimmed hats that provide adequate shade for your eyes. It’s best practice to combine a hat with sunglasses for comprehensive cover. 

    2. Eye hydration

    Maintain overall eye moisture and prevent dry eyes when you’re in the sun. To do this, you can use over-the-counter artificial tears or lubricant eye drops as recommended by your pharmacist or optometrist. If you’re prone to dry eyes, it’s advisable to use a humidifier after outdoor activities. 

    3. Eyecare routines

    To maximise summer eye health, it’s essential to practice good overall eye health by scheduling regular eye exams with your optometrist to identify any potential risk factors and to monitor or address changes in your vision or eye health.

    Eye protection for outdoor activities

    Using proper eye protection during outdoor activities, like swimming, will reduce the risk of certain health conditions and prevent eye injuries. Chemically-treated pools, the ocean and freshwater dams all pose a threat to eye health in the following ways.  

    • Waterborne infections. Natural bodies of water can contain bacteria and viruses that can cause eye infections. 
    • Chemical irritants. Chlorine and other pool chemicals can cause irritation and discomfort to your eyes. 
    • UV radiation. Sunlight reflects off water and intensifies UV exposure. 

    The best technique to ensure good eye health and protect your vision is to use goggles when swimming or enjoying water sports. These will create a barrier to the potential risks associated with water.

    Healthy diet for healthy eyes

    Certain foods are rich in nutrients, which are beneficial for eye health, and good to incorporate into your diet. Some of these include the following:

    • Carrots are rich in beta-carotene and Vitamin A
    • Leafy greens, like spinach and kale, contain antioxidants that protect your eyes from the harmful high-energy UV rays
    • Sweet potatoes are another good source of beta-carotene
    • Egg yolk contains zinc, which is important for keeping the retina healthy
    • Fatty fish, like salmon and sardines, contain omega-3 fatty acids that provide structural support of cell membranes in the eye and also help prevent dry eye disease
    • Citrus fruits, like oranges, are high in Vitamin C which plays an important role in preventing age-related macular degeneration and cataract development
    • Berries, like strawberries and blueberries, are rich in antioxidants, including Vitamin C and help prevent oxidative stress in your eyes
    • Nuts and seeds, like almonds and sunflower seeds, provide Vitamin E and zinc, which help prevent macular degeneration
    • Whole grains foods provide Vitamin E, zinc and niacin, which contribute to overall eye health

    Get a healthcare quote with optometry benefits

    UV-blocking sunglasses, hats and staying hydrated are some of the great tips for summer eye health. These simple measures go a long way in protecting your eyes. The other way to ensure good eye health is to schedule routine check-ups with an optometrist. Get an affordable healthcare quote with optometry benefits from Momentum Health4Me. You can get top-quality optometry benefits with health insurance or a medical aid plan. Contact our office to discuss your options with a trained consultant.

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