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Summer Is Around The Corner: What You Need To Know About Swimming In The Ocean and Eye Health

The sand under your toes, the sun on your skin — there’s nothing better than a summer afternoon at the beach. While most days enjoying the surf are perfectly safe, there are a few steps you can take to protect your eyes from the elements when you’re lounging on the coast.

Sand In Your Eyes? What To Do Next

First, it’s important to keep your hands away from your eyes as much as possible at the beach. It’s nearly impossible to keep sand off of your hands, and touching your eyes increases the likelihood of the surface of your eye getting a scratch. You may also want to avoid the beach on windy days — it can be tough to keep blowing sand out of your eyes.

Staying Safe from the Sun’s Rays

Sunglasses don’t just make you look cool at the beach — they protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Exposure to UV rays without eye protection can cause both short-term issues (similar to a sunburn on the eye’s surface) and long-term issues (such as cataracts or macular degeneration later in life). If you need corrective lenses, talk with your eye doctor about getting a pair of prescription sunglasses so you don’t need to worry about switching back and forth between your regular glasses and your sunglasses.

In addition to wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes, it’s also a smart move to wear a hat to shield your eyes from the sun even further.

Heading Out For a Swim? Do This First

If you wear contact lenses, it’s key to take them out before you get in the water. Harmful bacteria are often present in ocean water. While your eyes can typically flush out bacteria without an issue, this isn’t always the case when you’re wearing contact lenses. Bacteria can easily become trapped behind a contact lens, making it impossible for your eyes to flush the issue away.

You’ll also want to wear goggles in the water to protect your eyes from irritation. Goggles should be tight enough to create a waterproof seal, but not so tight that you’re uncomfortable.

Of course, if you think that you’ve encountered an eye injury while spending time at the beach, it’s important that you make an appointment with an eye care professional as soon as possible. If you’re experiencing an eye emergency (loss of vision, object embedded in the eye, blood coming from the eye), be sure to go to your nearest emergency room.

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