May is an important month for vision health awareness. Two significant awareness campaigns take place in May – Healthy Vision Month and Ultraviolet Awareness Month. These two awareness months occurring at the same time make it the perfect time to focus on your eye health while planning for a fun and safe summer outside.
Healthy Vision Month
Healthy Vision Month, organized by the National Eye Institute (NEI), aims to promote awareness of the importance of vision health and to encourage people to take proactive steps to protect their eyesight. This year’s campaign theme, “Healthy Vision: A Family Focus,” inspires families to work together and learn how to protect their vision. NEI is centering this year’s campaign on caregivers of children and older adults in Hispanic/Latino families.
If you would like to promote Healthy Vision Month 2023, here are five ways to get involved:
- Schedule a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist to discuss your family’s eye health history, check for eye diseases, and perform a routine vision test.
- Share information on social media using the hashtag #HealthyVisionMonth and NEI’s social media resources.
- Learn about eye health and safety so that you can lead the discussion with friends, family, and colleagues.
- Educate others about the importance of vision health and the connection between eye health and overall health.
- Host an eye health event to deliver information to as many people as possible.
Additionally, there are eight simple things people can do to protect their vision:
- Get regular comprehensive eye exams. Regular comprehensive eye exams can help detect eye problems or diseases early when they’re most treatable. Comprehensive eye exams can also help detect other health issues like high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Wear protective eyewear. Whether you’re playing sports, doing DIY projects, or working with hazardous materials, wearing protective eyewear can help prevent eye injuries.
- Wear sunglasses. Sunglasses that block 99-100% of UVA and UVB radiation can help protect your eyes from the harmful effects of the sun, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye problems.
- Give your eyes a rest. Staring at a computer screen, tablet, or smartphone for long periods can cause eyestrain, dry eyes, and headaches. The 20-20-20 rule can help prevent eye strain – take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away.
- Eat a healthy diet. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially those with antioxidants like vitamins C and E, can help prevent age-related vision problems like cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which can lead to diabetic retinopathy – a condition that can cause blindness.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking can increase the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye problems.
- Know your family’s eye health history. Some eye diseases and conditions are hereditary, so knowing your family’s eye health history can help you take steps to prevent or manage them.
Regular comprehensive eye exams and a healthy lifestyle can go a long way in preserving your eyesight and preventing vision problems. Following these simple steps can help protect your vision and maintain healthy eyes.
UV Awareness Month
Ultraviolet (UV) Awareness Month is declared by Prevent Blindness. The goal is to educate the public on the dangers of UV rays to our eyes and how to protect ourselves from them.
UV rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation that comes from the sun. They can be broken down into three types: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA rays can cause long-term damage to our eyes and contribute to cataracts, while UVB rays are more harmful and can cause sunburns and skin cancer. UVC rays are blocked by the earth’s atmosphere and don’t pose a significant threat.
During the spring and summer, people are more susceptible to UV overexposure because they spend more time outdoors. Here are some practical ways to protect yourself from UV rays while you enjoy the sunny weather.
Wear sunglasses that block 99-100% of UVA and UVB radiation. UV-blocking sunglasses help prevent eye damage from the sun’s harmful rays. When shopping for sunglasses, look for a label or sticker that says they block 99-100% of UVA and UVB radiation.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat or cap. Wearing a hat with a wide brim can help protect your face, neck, and eyes from the sun’s rays. A baseball cap can also provide some protection, but a wide-brimmed hat is better at blocking the sun from all angles.
Use sunscreen on exposed skin, including around the eyes. The skin around the eyes is delicate and can easily be damaged by the sun’s rays. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to your face and eyelids, and reapply every two hours or more often if you’re swimming or sweating.
Seek shade. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so seek shade during those hours. If you’re outside during those hours, try to stay in the shade, especially if you’re near water, sand, or other surfaces that reflect the sun’s rays.
UV Gotta Get Outside
Now that you know the importance of keeping your eyes healthy and protecting yourself from harmful UV rays, it’s time to get outside and have some fun. If you need ideas for fun outdoor activities and tips for avoiding UV exposure, we’ve got you covered like a fresh coat of SPF 50.
And because good vision makes all of these outdoor activities even more fun, we’ve got you covered there, too. After all, nJoy Vision is where you LASIK in Oklahoma City!
Take a hike. When hiking, be sure to wear sunglasses that block 99-100% of UVA and UVB radiation to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. Also, consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat or cap to protect your face and neck from the sun. Bring along a small tube of sunscreen and apply it regularly to any exposed skin.
Hit the beach. Going to the beach is a great way to enjoy the warm weather, but protecting your eyes and skin from the sun is important. Wear UV-blocking sunglasses, apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to all exposed skin, and consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat or cap. Seek shade when possible, and avoid being outside during peak sun hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
Dive in deep. If you wear contact lenses, consider wearing goggles to protect your eyes from the water and the sun’s rays. Swim goggles also protect your eyes from chlorine and other chemicals found in pools. If you’re swimming in natural bodies of water, be aware of the risks of water-borne eye infections and take precautions to avoid them.
Swing hard. Whether you’re playing baseball, golf, or another outdoor sport, wearing protective eyewear designed for the specific activity is important. Also, wear UV-blocking sunglasses and a hat or cap to protect your eyes and face from the sun.
Pack a lunch. When enjoying a picnic or outdoor meal, seek shade under a tree, umbrella, or canopy. Wear a hat or cap to protect your face and eyes from the sun, and apply sunscreen to any exposed skin. Don’t forget to bring UV-blocking sunglasses to wear while you’re outside.
With the sun rising higher and the days growing longer, Healthy Vision Month and UV Awareness Month make May the perfect time to prioritize your vision health. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, scheduling regular comprehensive eye exams, and taking simple steps to protect your eyesight from UV rays, you can help keep your eyes healthy and functioning well so you can see the light for many summers to come.