Living in the “Land of the Sun” definitely has its benefits, but Arizona living can also put us at risk for dangers from sun and heat exposure on multiple levels. Taking precautions to protect ourselves goes beyond sunscreen and staying hydrated during the warmer months; it also includes protecting our vision. Since April happens to be National Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month, we would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone to protect one of our most cherished senses, the “windows to the soul” – our eyes!
Just going outside can put our vision at risk, and over time, the sun’s rays can damage the eyes and the delicate skin surrounding our eyes. This damage can result in a multitude of conditions; some are well-known and others are not so familiar. Among the potential hazards are: photokeratitis (sunburn to the cornea), pterygium (tissue growth on the whites of eyes that can block vision), cataracts, macular degeneration, and eye and eyelid cancers. All of these conditions can contribute to vision loss.
Studies have indicated that the fairer your skin, the greater your age, and the lighter your eyes, the higher your long-term risk, especially if your work and living conditions involve prolonged sunlight exposure. Because light eyes also contain less of the protective pigment melanin, people with lighter eyes are at increased risk for skin cancer and certain eye diseases. No matter where you live, the color or your skin, the color of your eyes or your age, protecting your eyes with simple, daily measures can help keep your eyes and the tissue around them protected and healthy. Sunglasses are the best daily defense to protect our eyes.
Here are some tips for choosing eye protection:
- Check tags, labels, or packaging to make sure the lenses provide proper protection. Sunglasses should provide 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB protection. For extra assurance, look for The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation.
- See if the glasses meet ANSI and/or ISO standards for traffic signal recognition. This will ensure the lenses permit good color recognition for all driving conditions.
- For the most comfortable visibility, choose lenses that are neutral gray, green, or brown. Keep in mind, a darker lens does not equal greater protection. The lens tint you choose should block 80 percent of transmissible light, but no more than about 90 percent, or it will be hard for you to see.
- Wear your sunglasses whenever you are outdoors. This means year-round during daylight hours, even when the weather conditions are hazy or overcast.
- Sunglasses should shield the entire eye, eyelids and the delicate skin surrounding the eye.
- Wearing a hat with at least a 3-inch brim can help block overhead sunlight and adds an extra layer of protection to not only the eye, but the surrounding skin.
- Some contact lenses offer UV protection, but it is recommended that sunglasses still be worn by contact lens users. Sunglasses offer additional protection from the drying effect caused by wind and warm weather.
- Sunglasses do not replace sunscreen. When you shop for sunscreen, choose one specially made for the face and the delicate tissue surrounding your eyes.
Visual challenges and potential eye damage are especially concerning in our elderly patients. Allow Nightingale Homecare to evaluate and assist you in finding appropriate care and solutions for your loved one. Call us any time and find out the multitude of ways we can relieve all the concerns you may have about the care and attention your loved one requires.
Nightingale Homecare is a full-service professional Arizona home care agency dedicated to attending to all the personal care and home health care needs experienced in the elder population. Should your loved one require just a check-in visit, assistance with personal care, Medicare-certified home care assistance, or the 24-hour care of a skilled registered nurse, Nightingale Homecare is here to support you. Contact us with your questions on how we can custom-fit a home care solution for you!