We all remember that really bad sunburn we’ve gotten. We were bright red, felt like we were on fire, and couldn’t wear shorts for days. You thought to yourself, “Wow, I learned my lesson. I’m always putting sunscreen on.” And you did from then on. But did you know that you’re still leaving an important part of your body vulnerable?
In 2012, Anderson Cooper made headlines when he suffered temporary blindness due to sunburn on his eyes. He was without sight for 36 hours because of high exposure to ultra violet rays. Cooper described his experience as waking up in the middle of the night, feeling like his eyes “were on fire”. Other symptoms of sunburned eyes include itching, dryness, and blurred vision. Although Cooper’s burn cleaned up within two days, frequent and intense exposure to sunlight can lead to lasting damage, such as cataracts and skin cancer of or around the eyes. In addition, it’s important to know that cloudy days and long winters are no exception. Just because you can’t feel the full effect of the sun doesn’t mean there aren’t UV rays.
The easiest, most simple way to keep your eyes safe is by wearing sunglasses. But not just any junky, dollar store sunglasses. Make sure that your shades have UVA and UVB protection. The larger the lenses, the bigger the surface area shielding your eyes. They also make UVA/ UVB blocking contacts to keep your corneas covered. And while you may laugh at people who wear sunglasses in the winter, it’s still important. The reflection of the light and UV rays off of the snow can still do great damage to your eyes.
Another way to keep harmful UV rays out of your life is by wearing a wide brim hat. Not only are you protecting your eyes, but you’re also helping to protect the sensitive skin around them. Don’t forget, the eyes are made of tissue too. They’re not less susceptible to melanomas than the rest of your skin. If you do fall victim to sunburned eyes, see a doctor immediately. They’ll most likely offer up eye drops to sooth and re-hydrate the tissue.
The bottom line, your skin is the biggest organ your body has. It’s vital to take proper care of it, especially in the summer months. Apply roughly an ounce of sunscreen to your body every two hours and more frequently if you’re going into the water. Also make sure to keep your eyes protected from the harsh rays by packing sunglasses wherever you go, and remember to stay hydrated while doing activities outside.
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How do you protect yourself in the summer?