Flying grit from off-roading or yard work, chemicals in pools, a sun that
sears delicate tissues -- summer is an obstacle course for your precious eyes.
You can still have fun, but you may need to take some steps to protect your
A lot of this is common sense, which, sadly, is not always so common.
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that exists in different forms. Alpha-tocopherol vitamin E is the form that best meets our needs. Vitamin E's main role in the body appears to be neutralizing oxidation. For that reason, researchers think it plays an important role in protecting certain parts of the eye, which is particularly susceptible to oxidative damage. Cataracts, for example, are believed to be formed by oxidation in the lens of the eye caused mostly by UV rays in sunlight.
Take it from an emergency room doctor. Eyewise, he has seen it all. Here are
some top recommendations from several experts.
1. Wear Sun Protection
"A lot of people come to the ER with burned corneas each summer,"
Richard O'Brien, MD, an emergency physician with the Moses Taylor Hospital in
Scranton, Penn., tells WebMD.
"We have a lot of NASCAR up here. You'd be amazed how many people go to
that, a concert, or other all-day event without wearing a visor cap and
sunglasses. They even lie on their shiny RVs -- that is like being in a tanning
"They are fine at first, then go home, go to sleep, and wake up in an
hour in excruciating pain. I have had people come in here crying."
The sun, of course, shoots out rays of different lengths. The most damaging
are the ultraviolet rays, which are classified as UVA and UVB.
"Most decent sunglasses," Richard Bensinger, MD, an ophthalmologist
in private practice in Seattle, tells WebMD, "protect against UVB. If they
also protect against UVA, it should say so on them."
Sunglasses may be one thing you don't want to get at the Dollar Store,
O'Brien observes. They should be close to the face or wraparound. Some people
like dark tints, but the UV-blocking coating is the same on any color.
Polarized lenses may be more comfortable for workers outside because they block
Too much ultraviolet can accelerate the formation of
cataracts, Bensinger adds. "There are very solid studies that
show this; people who stayed in the sun tended to get cataracts eight to 10
years before a carefully selected group that was mostly in the shade or
The hat-sunglasses combo should also be worn at the beach, amusement parks,
bike rides, boating, or anyplace where there is prolonged sun exposure, O'Brien
And don't forget the little ones -- they need the same.