KWM’s Guide to Summer Eyecare

Ah, the sights and sounds of summer have returned! Lightning bugs are lighting up the night sky, the bees are buzzing, and swimming pools are packed. Now, before you hit the road for your next Great American Adventure or just to go to your nearby swimming hole, let’s set some ground rules to keep you and your family safe. Here’s KWM’s Guide to Summer Eyecare!

Step 1: Avoid the Burn

When we say avoid the burn, we aren’t talking about wearing sunscreen. Although, we highly encourage you to do that. In this instance, we’re actually talking about a condition called photokeratitis. When you spend hours and hours in the sun, the UV rays can take a toll on your eyes. This exposure can cause temporary damage to your cornea and conjunctiva which we refer to as photokeratitis. It’s like having a sunburn in the corners of your eyes. Symptoms of photokeratitis include pain, redness, sensitivity to light, headaches, and swelling. In some cases, people may experience temporary vision loss, but this symptom is rare. 

To protect your eyes, always wear 100% UV-blocking sunglasses. If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, polarized lenses are a great option because they will help with glare and visibility. Keep in mind that just because that cheap pair of shades at the store is cute doesn’t mean it will protect your eyes. For more tips to help you pick the right pair of sunglasses, check out our sunglasses blog

Photokeratitis normally clears up on its own. Until your eyes are healed, you can find relief by placing a cold washcloth over your eyes and using artificial tears.

Step 2: Contacts Aren’t Made for Swimming 

Contacts and water don’t mix. If you are one of our many patients who wear contacts, please take them out before you hop in the pool, ocean, lake, river, shower, etc. When your contacts come in contact with water, they become like magnets picking up all the bacteria and particles floating around. With all these nasty substances trapped in your lenses, your risk of infection rises. Take acanthamoeba, for example. If this microbe found in water were to attach to your cornea and cause an infection called acanthamoeba keratitis, you could lose your vision or need a corneal transplant. On top of that, losing your contacts in the water isn’t out of the question since they can easily fall out while you’re swimming. Next time you go to the pool, leave your contacts at home and opt for glasses instead. 

Step 3: Don’t Forget Your Goggles!

If you’ve ever snorkled, you know how amazing it is to see all of God’s creations that call the ocean, river, etc., home. You can thank goggles for that experience. Wearing goggles not only allows you to see what is going on around you but also protects your eyes from the chemicals, bacteria, etc., in the water. When choosing your goggles, pick a pair that fits your face and securely seals around your eyes. Prescription goggles are a great idea for people who swim professionally or spend a lot of time in the water. 

Step 4: Keep Your Eyes Hydrated

We talk a lot about dry eye during the winter months, but it can also be a problem during the hot and humid months of the year. In the summer, we spend a lot of time avoiding the heat by staying indoors. However, air conditioning removes moisture from the air causing your eyes to feel dry. Swimming can also contribute to dry eye issues since chlorine can irritate your eyes. 

For anyone dealing with dry eye symptoms, there are things you can do to find relief. Start by drinking lots of water and staying hydrated. Use a humidifier to replace the moisture that air conditioning is removing, and don’t point the vents in your car directly at your face. If dry eye is really bothering you, give our office a call. We can help and provide suggestions for artificial tears to relieve your discomfort.

We’re Here For You

Our team loves everything about summer, and we hope you have a great time soaking up the sun. Remember that we are always here for you. Give us a call at 423-892-2020 to schedule an appointment. You can also stop by our office to check out our selection of glasses and sunglasses.