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Throwing Shade: How to Protect Your Eyes in the Summer

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Men are accustomed to protecting their skin during the summertime, but experts say protecting your eyes can be just as important. In fact, too much exposure to ultraviolet rays can cause what’s called photokeratitis or photo conjunctivitis (more commonly known as “snow blindness”). That’s according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, which found that continual UV exposure, particularly exposure to UVB rays, may cause cataract development, pterygium (a noncancerous growth over the cornea), or skin cancer of the eyelids.

Despite the potential dangers that exist, there are many ways to protect your eyes this summer. Salute compiled these tips from leading experts:

1. Wear sunglasses labeled 100% UV protection. Use only glasses that block both UV-A and UV-B rays and that are labeled either UV400 or 100% UV protection. Proper UV blockage doesn’t necessarily mean a higher price either, as many affordable brands give complete UV blockage.

2. When selecting sunglasses, choose sunglasses with large lenses and wraparound frames.

3. Wear a hat along with your sunglasses; broad brimmed hats are best.

4. Be cognizant of your eyes even on cloudy days. Experts note that clouds do not block UV light. The sun’s rays can pass through haze and clouds, and sun damage to the eyes can occur any time of year— not just in summer.

5. Use goggles at the pool. If you have not gone swimming in a few months, the first dip into the pool can hurt your eyes because of the chlorine. The simplest solution for protection, say experts, is to wear goggles every time you go to swim in a pool. This also applies to swimming in the ocean or other natural bodies of water, which contain other contaminants that may be harmful to your eyes.

6. Eat healthy and stay hydrated. There are many foods rich in nutrients that improve your eyesight and help prevent the development of long-term vision problems. Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants known to help defend against macular degeneration and cataracts. Additionally, during the summer, people are more likely to become dehydrated, which can affect their eyes. Serious dehydration makes it harder for the body to produce tears, leading to dry eye symptoms and other vision problems.

7. Use eye drops. You may need to use some kind of eye drops to minimize pain or manage other eye problems. If you have allergies that make your eyes feel tired or excessively dry, you may benefit from ketotifen eye drops.

8. Sleep. Researchers have discovered that people who have been awake as little as 18 hours start to suffer decreased performance on visual tasks.

9. Have an emergency pair of sunglasses on hand. It is good to be prepared for the occasional mishap.