Summer Sun is a Vision Threat
Summer is quickly approaching and to spread the word that summer months pose particular risks to your vision, the American Academy of Ophthalmology urge you to take precautions to make sure your eyes are safe as you set about your summer activities.
The most insidious eye injuries can come from the summer's main attraction -- the sun.
Ultraviolet rays can cause sunburned corneas, cancer of the eyelid, and increased risk of eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. But those diseases won't develop until long after you've sustained an eye injury that you might not even know you have.
"So you're not aware of the damage that's going on with UV rays until you're much older,"
Everyone should wear sunglasses that will block ultraviolet light. "These don't have to be expensive sunglasses," Just make sure it says 100-percent UV protection."
You also should wear eye protection when playing your favorite sports. For instance, baseball and softball account for a surprising amount of eye damage, with one in every 20 serious eye injuries related to either of the two sports.
Fireworks are another summer attraction that can cause major eye damage. Fireworks-related eye injuries resulted in 1,200 emergency room visits in 2002, according to the CPSC.
Experts recommend going to a public fireworks display .
Summer's also the time for home-improvement. Doctors urge the use of safety glasses, tight-fitting goggles, or a face mask to ensure that your project doesn't end in disaster.
Goggles or safety glasses also should be worn whenever you're doing yard work with power equipment. And you should make sure that anyone who's nearby is similarly equipped when you operate a lawn mower, power trimmer, or edger.
To further lessen your chances for injury, always check for stones, twigs, or other debris before using lawn equipment. They can become dangerous projectiles after shooting off a lawn mower's blades or a weed trimmer's cord.
Goggles also should be used when working with household chemicals, such as cleaning solutions, pool chemicals, or garden sprays, many of which can burn the eyes' delicate tissues.
Other safety tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology include:
* Wear eye protection when using bungee cords, which are becoming an increasingly common cause of eye injury.
* Keep children in the back seat of vehicles because deploying air bags can lead to serious eye injuries.
* Buy safe toys for kids, avoiding slingshots, BB guns, paintball guns, and toys with sharp edges.
To learn more about ways to protect your eyes from injury, visit Prevent Blindness America.
SOURCES: Monica L. Monica, M.D., Ph.D., ophthalmologist, New Orleans; Stephen Pflugfelder, M.D., professor, ophthalmology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston
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