Watch Out for These 5 Summer Eye Dangers

You protect your skin from sunburn and your body from injury, so why not your eyes? Review common summer sight hazards and how to avoid them.

7:00 AM

Author | Kevin Joy

During summertime activities, one specialist has simple advice: Protect your eyes.

Common leisure pursuits (and the outdoors itself) can pose severe and permanent risks to your vision.

MORE FROM MICHIGAN: Sign up for our weekly newsletter

"You get two eyes in life; there is no eye transplantation," says Theresa Cooney, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center. "Once you hurt your eye, that's what you live with."

Cooney spoke more about the dangers that peak during warmer months.

Sun

Because we can't put sunblock on our eyes, a combo of quality sunglasses (make sure they block UVA and UVB rays) and a wide-brimmed hat are necessary shields against major risks. "Your eyelids are prone to skin cancer, as the sun bounces off your nose," Cooney says. Sun exposure, she adds, has been shown to cause and accelerate cataracts and macular degeneration.

Fireworks

It might dazzle a crowd, but setting off fireworks simply isn't worth the show. Says Cooney: "There can be a pretty severe blast that can burn and completely destroy the eyes." Some of the most serious summer eye injuries are tied to fireworks, she says. Nationwide, such incidents doubled in 2014 compared with two years prior, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Swimming

Contacts and swimming can be an unsafe combination. Lenses "act like a sponge and hold water," Cooney says. That's a problem if the water be it fresh or chlorinated harbors bacteria or parasites. One such hazard is Acanthamoeba, which in rare cases can cause infection and blindness. It is safest to swim without contact lenses. Otherwise, wear ones that can be disposed of immediately after swimming and rinse your eyes afterward. Also consider wearing goggles with a good seal around the eyes.

Yardwork

Lawnmowers and weed trimmers simplify outdoor upkeep. But the powerful machines can cause dangerous momentum. "When those blades move, they shoot things out including stones," says Cooney, who notes that a punctured eye is a common resulting injury. Avoid this scenario by wearing protective goggles with shields when working in the yard.

Sports

Any small ball that can fit into the eye socket presents an issue. "We're talking mostly baseballs, racquetballs, tennis balls, anything that comes at a high velocity," says Cooney. While such impact probably won't put a hole in the eye, it can create retinal damage or a hyphema, a pooling of blood between the cornea and iris. That, Cooney says, can cause glaucoma and vision loss.


More Articles About: Eye Health Kellogg Eye Center Safety Eye Care & Vision Hospitals & Centers
Health Lab word mark overlaying blue cells
Health Lab

Explore a variety of healthcare news & stories by visiting the Health Lab home page for more articles.

Media Contact Public Relations

Department of Communication at Michigan Medicine

[email protected]

734-764-2220

Stay Informed

Want top health & research news weekly? Sign up for Health Lab’s newsletters today!

Subscribe
Featured News & Stories Kids standing by pool
Health Lab
Firework Blasts Child in the Face, Mother Urges Caution
Firework Hits Child in the Face, Mother Urges Caution
TV weatherman Dave Rexroth with his family in 2014
Health Lab
Meteorologist Thrives After Losing Eye in Fireworks Accident
Metro Detroit TV Weatherman Dave Rexroth stays active, independent despite fireworks accident that left him with single vision.
Health Lab
Cornea Transplant Brings New Outlook After Surprise Eye Injury
A fishing accident could have robbed a young boy of sight in his left eye. His vision was restored thanks to a donated cornea and transplant surgery at Michigan Medicine.
Health Lab
How to Protect Your Eyes During the Total Solar Eclipse
A Michigan Medicine ophthalmologist and retinal surgeon shares advice for viewing the total solar eclipse safely, including what to look for in eye protection.
Provider takes a pulse oximetry reading from a patient's finger
Health Lab
Inaccurate pulse oximeter readings could limit transplants, heart pumps for Black patients with heart failure
Racially biased readings of oxygen levels in the blood using pulse oximeters may further limit opportunities for Black patients with heart failure to receive potentially lifesaving treatments, such as heart pumps and transplants
art work with flower circle green teal orange yellow pink on display
Health Lab
Quiet strength of nature heals those dealing with cancer
An art exhibition explores the physical and emotional complexities of the cancer journey by combining anatomy with nature.