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How To Avoid Summer's Dangers To Your Eyes

Who doesn't look forward to summer and having lots of fun in the sun? The problem is that many of the things associated with the lazy, hazy days of summer can have adverse effects on your eyes. But optometrists point out that knowing the potential risks and what you can do to protect your eyes can help keep them healthy.

Chlorinated Pools

Although chlorine in pool water kills bacteria, the chemical compounds can irritate your eyes and make them red. The symptoms of eye irritation are uncomfortable, but the condition is usually temporary.

If your eyes are sensitive to chlorinated water, wear goggles when you swim, particularly if you swim underwater. Flush your eyes with water for several minutes if your vision becomes blurry after getting out of the pool. The use of artificial tears eye drops may help relieve the itching and burning that irritated eyes can cause.

Another alternative is to swim in pools sanitized with salt. The salt is easier on your eyes, as well as your skin and hair. While saltwater disinfecting systems still produce chlorine, the levels of chlorine in the pool water are lower.

Air Conditioning

Air conditioning can dry out the air, which can irritate your eyes. Cooler air is less humid, and since the eyes are protected by a layer of watery tears, low humidity causes the surface of the eye to dry. The tear film in the eyes loses moisture as water evaporates out of the eyes into the air.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help improve the lubrication of your eyes. When your eyes feel dry, blink quickly a few times to help moisturize your eyes naturally. You also should use a room humidifier if your air conditioning unit or system isn't equipped with one one. House plants are another way to protect against low indoor humidity by adding moisture back into the air through transpiration – the process by which plants release water vapor into the air.

Besides the usual dry eye symptoms, dry air makes your eyes more sensitive to airborne allergens and bacteria. Therefore, it's important to keep air conditioning vents and filters clean, especially if you suffer with allergies.


Radiation from the sun is the most obvious danger to the health of your eyes, not only in the summertime but all year round. But looking directly into the sunlight without the protection of appropriate sunglasses isn't the only thing that can trigger eye or vision problems.

Sunlight that reflects off water, sandy beaches, and other surfaces can lead to conjunctivitis (pinkeye) or keratitis (corneal irritation or infection). Keep in mind, too, that the sun's damaging rays can pass through haze and even cloud cover.

When the clear tissue that covers the white of the eye becomes irritated, you can experience symptoms such as red, itchy eyes, burning eyes, or the feeling that you have something in your eye. Conjunctivitis also can cause blurry vision. Keratitis produces symptoms similar to conjunctivitis, but the condition can lead to permanent vision loss or blindness if complications occur.

Wear Sunglasses as a Preventive Measure

Avoid looking toward the sun and wear sunglasses to keep ultraviolet light out of your eyes. Polarized lenses block glare from the sun and are particularly good if you are involved in outdoor water sports. Besides allowing you to see what's around you without squinting, you can see into the water despite reflections off the water's surface.

The sunglasses you wear should protect against both UVA and UVB radiation. Gray-colored lenses reduce light intensity, minimize glare off water, and give you more natural color perception. Wraparound sunglasses offer additional protection by preventing the sun's rays from entering your eyes from the sides.

For more information, contact Charles Richards A OD or a similar eye care professional.