“Wear your hat! Put on sunscreen!” These are regular warnings from parents as their teens head out the door to enjoy the hot, sunny and lazy days of summer. Along with protecting their skin, Alberta optometrists want to make sure teens are also remembering to protect their eyes.
Here are three easy things teenagers can do to ensure their long-term eye health this summer:
1. Wear sunglasses to minimize sun damage. Although it feels great to be out in the summer sun, it can be damaging to our eyes. Children’s and teen’s eyes are particularly vulnerable to UV damage because their crystalline lens has not developed the ability to filter UV rays. Exposure to UV rays can put them at greater risk of eye damage later on in life, including cataracts and macular degeneration.
When choosing over-the-counter sunglasses, look for a closefitting, wraparound style frame and impact resistant lenses. All sunglasses should have 100 per cent UVA and UVB blocking lenses. Alternatively, if a child requires prescription sunglasses, consider changing to variable tint or Transition lenses that become darker when exposed to UV light.
2. Consider wearing contacts to play sports. Along with beautiful weather, summer brings lots of opportunities to exercise and play sports outside with friends and family. For a sporty teen, contact lenses are a great alternative to glasses when being active. Contact lenses are more stable than glasses (they can’t get knocked off or break) and they have the added benefit of providing unobstructed peripheral vision. Contacts are available in different shapes and materials, and if used correctly, contact lenses are very safe. It’s important to work with an optometrist when choosing contact lenses to ensure the lenses fit properly and suits your lifestyle.
3. Know how to treat an eye injury. During the summer, with increased time outside or at the beach or lake, teens are at greater risk of getting dust, sand or other airborne objects in their eyes. Foreign objects can cause minor injuries, such as scratches or abrasions to the cornea. These injuries may also lead to eye infections or decreased vision.
If an object gets in your teen’s eye, do not rub or put pressure on it. Start by washing your hands and the eye area with lukewarm water. If there is a small particle in the upper or lower lid of the eye, try to flush it out by cupping water in your hand and rinsing the eye. If the object cannot be dislodged, go straight to a doctor of optometry. A referral is not required and Alberta Health Care covers these emergency visits.
For all family eye health matters, visit your optometrist or find a doctor of optometry near you by visiting optometrists.ab.ca.
Calgary’s Child Magazine © 2019 Calgary’s Child