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October is…

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We all know why we need to wear sunglasses and sunscreen in the summer. Winter, however, can be deceiving. It's an illusion to assume that we are safe from sunburns during the colder season.

Snow acts as a powerful mirror for sunlight and magnifies the effects of UV rays which would otherwise be absorbed by the ground. As a result, the eyes are exposed to both the UV radiation bouncing back from the snowy carpet and the rays shining down directly from the sun.





If your family is skiing or snowboarding up in the mountains, you need to be even more careful! UV rays are more powerful at higher altitudes. Another important factor to remember is that ultraviolet radiation penetrates through clouds, so even if the sun is hidden behind them, it can still damage your eyes.

Prevent overexposure to sunlight by wearing sunglasses that absorb at least 95% of ultraviolet radiation when you go outside, no matter what time of year it is. Even though you want to look great in your shades, the most important part of choosing sunglasses is making sure they provide adequate protection against UV. Make sure the lenses are 100% UV blocking by looking for an indication that they block all light up to 400 nanometers - UV400. The good news is you don't necessarily have to pay more for full coverage for your eyes. Dozens of reasonably priced options exist that still provide total ultraviolet protection.

Another important factor in selecting sun wear is the size of the lenses. You want to make sure your glasses cover as much of the area around your eyes as possible. The more coverage you have, the less harmful radiation will be able to penetrate. Lenses that wrap around the temples will also prevent UV waves from entering from the sides.

If you like to ski or frolic in the snowy hills, you should be aware that the sun's rays are stronger at higher elevations, so you need to be especially careful to keep your eyes shaded on the slopes. In addition to sunglasses, it's a good idea to put on a wide brimmed hat that covers your eyes.

Make a point to be knowledgeable about proper eye protection throughout the year. Don't forget to wear your sunglasses.

October is 'Eye Injury Prevention Month' in the USA and 'Eye Health Month' in Canada. There are about 285 million people living with blindness and low vision all around the world. Children account for some 19 million of them. The vast majority of visual impairment is readily treatable and/or preventable. Unfortunately, help is hard to access for 90% of blind people, who live in low-income countries.

In addition to raising awareness about the global impact of eye health and eye injury prevention, here are several things you should know about keeping your own eyes healthy:

  • Protective eyewear is key!
    • You might think we’re only talking to the construction workers and lab technicians, but nearly half of all eye injuries occur at home during activities such as yard work, home repair, cooking and cleaning.
      • For Example, chemical splash is very common, as often it happens at home suddenly. Eye protection is important as acid and alkali burns can penetrate eye tissues quickly. If this does occur, flush the eyes with water or saline for 15 minutes before attempting to see your eye doctor
    • Almost 40% of eye injuries in North America are sports related or caused during recreational activities.
    • What kind of protection do you need? Well, damage to the eyes can be caused by:
      • Projectile or falling objects
      • Sticks (think hockey sticks) or other pointy rods
      • Chemicals – whether corrosive or hot
      • Dust
      • Sun exposure
    • So, the right eyewear depends on the activity.
  • Keep kids toys age appropriate and safe
    • When parents think of toy safety, they are usually most concerned about whether it is a choking hazard.
    • Yet, toys cause thousands of eye injuries in children each year.
    • Check age recommendations on toys, and use common sense.
    • Children should play under adult supervision to prevent dangerous activities.
    • If your kid plays sports, make sure he or she has the right eyewear to prevent avoidable injury. Got glasses? Talk to your eye doctor about customizing your child’s gear with prescription goggles, or consider contact lenses.
  • See your eye doctor every year
    • Comprehensive eye exams are crucial to eye health. At your eye check-up, your optometrist will examine your vision and eyes.
    • Prevent vision loss by catching a developing eye condition in its early stages. Your eye doctor will monitor its progression and intervene as early as necessary. Early intervention is associated with better prognosis and usually requires less aggressive treatment.

Your optometrist is here for you, if you have any questions about eye health and eye injury prevention.