Protect your eyes with style and restraint (leave the fireworks to the pros)

It looks like my kids and I need to pick up some sunglasses. Melanie Pickett, O.D., assistant professor of clinical ophthalmology at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute at the IU School of Medicine, said sunglasses are the most important component of a summer wardrobe – for adults and kids.

Brothers from Carmel, Ind., model proper eye care.

I always wear them, but my kids? Rarely. Pickett said long-term UV exposure — including reflection from water, sand or pavement — can cause lasting damage, including cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and eye growths that could include cancer.

Eyes are at risk from harmful ultraviolet rays year-round, but the problem is compounded in the summer when the days are longer and people spend more time outdoors. Pickett said sunglasses of all makes and models are effective at blocking the sun’s harmful rays as long as they block UVA and UVB rays.

“Sunglasses that offer wrap-around protection are best,” she said.

Pickett’s sun-related eye-care tips include the need for contact lens wearers to wear sunglasses regardless of whether the contacts offer UV protection, and the suggestion that sunglasses be worn even in the winter because clouds do not block harmful rays.

Fourth of July

Sparklers can be hard to pass up this time of year, but don’t let the innocent-sounding name fool you: The handheld firework favorite can lead to serious eye injuries. Jennifer Eikenberry, M.D., a comprehensive ophthalmologist at the Glick Eye Institute, says too many Fourth of July celebrations end early “when a child or an adult has to be rushed to an emergency room with an injury caused by fireworks.”

Jennifer Eikenberry, M.D.

“Playing with fireworks can lead to head injuries, burns and eye injuries that could result in vision loss,” she said recently. “Children are often given sparklers, and those devices can reach a temperature of 1,900 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to cause a third-degree burn.”

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 9,000 fireworks-related injuries occur each year. The Indiana Academy of Ophthalmology says children 15 or younger account for half of all fireworks injuries in the United States, with sparkers causing one third of those injuries.

Her tips include not allowing kids to play with fireworks, particularly sparklers, the importance of seeking help at an emergency room for any injury related to fireworks, and more.

Tags: , , , ,