UV Safety Month: Protect Your Eyes for the Road Ahead

Anytime you are outside, whether you are having a picnic or spending the day at the beach or an amusement park, be sure to protect your eyes when you are in the sun. As we age, we experience changes in our vision. Since the ability to see well is so important to driving, it's critical to maintain good vision and protect our eyes both from acute damage from a really bright sunny day as well as long term exposure to the bright sun.

"During the summer months the level of ultraviolet radiation is three times greater than in the winter," says the American Academy of Ophthalmology. And according to the U.S. DHHS' Office of Minority Health, "studies show that exposure to bright sunlight may increase the risk of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, both leading causes of vision loss among older adults."

Here are a few tips from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration to protect your eyes.

  • Wear a hat.A wide brim hat is ideal because it protects the eyes as well as the neck, ears, forehead, nose, and scalp.
    • If you wear a baseball cap, says the CDC, you should also protect your ears and the back of your neck by wearing clothing that covers those areas, using sunscreen with at least SPF 15, or by staying in the shade.
  • Wear UV-absorbent shades.Sunglasses don't have to be expensive, but they should block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation.
  • Limit exposure. UV rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you're unsure about the sun's intensity, take the shadow test: If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun's rays are the day's strongest.
For more ways to protect your eye to be safer behind the wheel, check out my previous blog posts on comprehensive dilated eye exams, glaucomaand ways to improve your vision as you drive. You'll be glad you did

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