Protecting Your Eyes and Ears in the Summer

Summer means lots of outdoor family fun. Whether you’re enjoying a swimming or splash park with your kids, a family picnic, hike, sporting event or concert, it’s important to protect your health while you’re out in the sun. Here are some tips on how to protect your eyes and ears while you’re out and about in the North Texas summer heat.

A Day in the Sun: If you’re planning an outing that involves many hours in the sun, it is a given to use sunscreen. But it’s also a good idea to protect your eyes from Ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

UV can cause damage to both your skin and your eyes. UV rays may contribute to the development of cataracts and macular degeneration, which may result in blindness. Intense short-term exposure to UV light may cause “eye sunburn,” a painful condition associated with outdoor recreational activity. Too much long-term exposure may contribute to skin cancer around the eyes and sight-threatening conditions. To help reduce these risks, protect your eyes from the sun by wearing sunglasses that block out 99% or more of UV rays and a wide-brimmed hat.

Keep in mind that it is important for people – especially children – to get outside and take breaks from digital devices. Studies show that natural light can promote healthy vision, especially among children and teens with developing eyes, and that spending time outside may be a protective factor against nearsightedness. Partly due to extended periods of up-close reading and screen time, more than 40% of Americans have nearsightedness (myopia), which is the inability to see far off objects clearly, and the percentage is growing.

Sounds of Summer: Summer is also a popular time for sporting events and music concerts, which can lead to exposure to loud sounds. Crowd noise at some sporting events can exceed 90 decibels; music concerts can exceed 115 decibels. Prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 decibels may contribute to gradual hearing loss, so it is a good idea to protect your family’s hearing with earplugs or earmuffs when you’re at a loud event. Young hearing follicles are more easily damaged compared to those of adults.

Likewise, extended listening to music or digital content through headphones or earbuds may damage hearing over time. To help prevent that, turn the volume on your electronic device to 60 percent or lower and listen for no longer than 60 minutes at a time. When using power tools or a lawn mower, never listen to earbuds.

Fireworks are another summer tradition, and also a potentially dangerous one for both the ears and eyes. These explosions can exceed 150 decibels, so, next year, remember to watch fireworks from a safe distance.

Have a fun summer and remember to protect your eyes and ears now and in the future.

Contributor: Dr. Sarah-Anne H. Schumann, Regional Chief Medical Officer UnitedHealthcare of North Texas and Oklahoma



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