For many families, summer is the most wonderful time of the year. School is out, days are long, sun is plentiful and vacations, cookouts and family time outdoors are common.

Here are four tips to keep your eyes safe during this summer season.

  1. Avoid Getting a “Sunburn of the Eye”
  2. Sunscreen Is Good, But Be Careful
  3. Watch Out for “Chlorine Eyes”
  4. Celebrate America, But Protect Your Eyes

Avoid Getting a “Sunburn of the Eye”

For many families, summer not complete without a trip to the pool, lake or ocean. Much like snow in the winter, sunlight can reflect off of the surfaces of the water and sand, resulting in a painful “burn” of the eyes called photokeratitis. Pain, redness, blurriness and even temporary vision loss can occur. Wearing the right sunglasses can help prevent photokeratitis.

Tips for Choosing & Wearing Sunglasses

  • Look for sunglasses that are marked “100% UV protection” or “UV400”. The darkness of sunglasses does not equate to their UV-blocking ability.
  • Children of all ages can wear sunglasses. Encourage the use of sunglasses early in life. This can help develop the habit for continued future use.
  • For added eye protection, wear a broad-brimmed hat. These hats also make a good choice for children that do not want to wear sunglasses.

Sunscreen Is Good, But Be Careful

Sunscreen is a vital part of our skin’s protection against UV damage. However, as many people know, sunscreen and your eyes don’t mix! Sunscreen can cause pain and irritation if it gets into the eye. If this happens, flush the eyes with cool water.

Tips for Keeping Sunscreen Out of Your Eyes

  • Do not spray sunscreen directly onto the face, even if the eyelids are closed.
  • Apply sunscreen to your hands first, and then rub it onto your face, taking care to avoid the area right next to the eyelid.

Watch Out for “Chlorine Eyes”

Swimming pools can be tough on the eyes. Chemicals used to keep the water clean, such as chlorine, can affect the natural tear film that keeps our eyes moist and healthy. This can result in red, gritty-feeling eyes and blurry vision.

Tips to Keep Your Eyes Feeling and Looking Good

  • Wear swim goggles in the pool.
  • Splash your closed eyes with fresh water immediately after getting out of the pool.
  • If a child wears glasses regularly, prescription goggles can be purchased and are usually fairly affordable. Speak to your child’s optometrist or ophthalmologist for more information.

Celebrate America, But Protect Your Eyes

The 4th of July has become synonymous with fireworks celebrations, both by professionals and at home. Despite their beauty, fireworks are dangerous and can lead to eye injuries.

Did You Know?

  • 14% of injuries resulting from fireworks are injuries to the eyes.
  • 33% of these eye injuries are in children 15 years of age or younger, with 14% of these injuries to children under the age of 5.

Tips for Practicing Firework Safety

The best way to avoid a potentially blinding fireworks injury is by attending a professional, public fireworks show rather than purchasing fireworks for home use. However, for those who wish to purchase fireworks for at-home use, consider the following safety recommendations:

  • Do not allow young children to play with fireworks. They may not understand the danger involved and may not act appropriately if an emergency arises.
  • Sparklers (often considered the ideal “safe” device for young children) are the most common cause of fireworks-related eye injuries in children. Sparklers burn at approximately 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and should not be handled by young children.
  • Older children permitted to use fireworks should do so only under close adult supervision.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to use for emergencies and to pour on fireworks that fail to ignite or explode.

Enjoy Your Summer!

Hopefully, you can add these tips to your outdoor routine and get the most out of your summer season!

Don Sauberan, MD

Don Sauberan, MD

Eye Surgical Associates, Ophthalmologist

Donald P. Sauberan, M.D. specializes in pediatric ophthalmology and adult strabismus. He received his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin. He served in the United States Air Force as a General Medical Officer at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ. He then completed his Ophthalmology residency at San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium in San Antonio, TX. He then served as a general ophthalmologist at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska. After his military service, he completed his Pediatric Ophthalmology Fellowship at Children’s Mercy Hospitals & Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri. Dr. Sauberan has clinics in Lincoln, Columbus and Kearney, Nebraska.

Dr. Sauberan is board certified and a member of the American Board of Ophthalmology, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus, Nebraska Medical Association, Lancaster County Medical Society, and the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians & Surgeons.

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