Protecting Your Eyes at the Beach

It’s Summer, and that means millions of people will be flocking to beaches from Maine to California. You may have a checklist of items you bring to the shore to have a good time, like volleyballs, sand toys, and snacks, but do you think of your eyes as you reach for your boogie boards and snorkels? In fact, the beach can actually present unique dangers for your eyes, so it’s important to be prepared. The next time you’re getting ready for a day of sun, sand, and surf, don’t forget these tips to protect your eyes while at the beach!

Always Wear Sunglasses

Between the sun itself and the reflection of its rays off the ocean, the beach presents a high risk of exposure to dangerous UV light, which can even filter through clouds on overcast days. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to wear sunglasses that are 100% resistant to UVA and UVB light, both of which can cause cancer; polarized lenses, which are UV resistant and offer clear vision, are a great choice. Furthermore, consider wearing sunglasses with lenses that fully wrap around your eye for maximum protection.

Don’t Open Your Eyes or Wear Contacts while Swimming

Ocean water isn’t entirely sanitary, which means that opening your eyes while underwater can directly expose you to infection-causing germs and potentially lead to temporarily blurred vision or swollen corneas. Additionally, the ocean’s salt water is an eye irritant. There are other risks if you wear contact lenses: since contacts absorb water, wearing contacts while swimming can cause the lenses to become distorted and lose their shape, and as they absorb water, they may also absorb germs and keep them pressed against your eye. Be sure to keep your eyes closed and remove contact lenses before going underwater, and if you really want to take a look at what’s below the water’s surface, wear goggles or other protective eyewear.

Don’t Rub Sand in Your Eyes

Generally speaking, rubbing your eyes can bring germs from your hands into your eyes and lead to infection. However, at the beach, rubbing your eyes as a way to try and get sand out of them can actually cause corneal abrasions—which leads to discomfort, red eyes, and extreme sensitivity to light—so use sanitary water or eyedrops to flush out sand.

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