Summertime and yes, the living is easy, but on that ever-present other hand, the living can also be hard, especially on your skin – something you all know, I’m sure – but here’s the one you may not know, summertime is also very hard on your eyes.
Because long-term excess sunlight exposure raises the risk of at least two very common eye disorders.
One is cataracts which are “hardenings” in the lens of the eye (usually in both lenses, of course) and which eventually very often result in the need to have surgery to remove one or both lens.
That risk has been known for a long time but the eye problem linked to sunlight that’s been discovered more recently is macular degeneration (that’s a more recent link), the most common cause of blindness in North American seniors.
So if you want to see well into your senior years, and trust me, you do, you really want to protect your eyes from too much sunlight.
To that end, buy a good pair of sunglasses, and try to wear those sunglasses as often as you can when outside (remember that you still get some UV exposure even on cloudy days), and remember, too, that some surfaces such as water magnify the effect of sunlight on your eyes.
But be especially careful to wear your sunglasses on sunny days even if you are planning on being outside just for a few minutes.
Do you wake up feeling like you have grit in your eyes? Do your eyes feel dry, sore and scratchy, particularly when you are driving, working at your computer or reading?
If so, you likely have dry eye or keratoconjunctivitis sicca—an uncomfortable condition where the eye does not produce a sufficient amount of tear film, or the film produced lacks the appropriate composition to prevent fast evaporation from the eye’s surface. Since the tear film serves to lubricate the eye when blinking, a lack of it can cause extreme discomfort.
Dry eye can be caused by a number of factors, including aging, environmental issues, and medications such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT), diuretics, antihistamines, nasal decongestants, beta blockers, oral contraceptives and antidepressants. Sometimes, the dryness is temporary but, for most, it is a chronic condition that needs to be addressed for the ongoing comfort of the eyes.
Few people take their eyesight for granted, but did you know that most eye conditions and mishaps are preventable? Here are ways to ensure your eyes—and those of your family—remain healthy throughout life.
The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends that babies have their first eye exam between the ages of six and nine months. Children should have at least one eye exam between the ages of two and five, and yearly after starting school.