Protect your eyes: Save your peepers when exercising outdoors

The bright sunshine of summer may entice people young and old to enjoy more time outside. Whether you’re spending the day at the beach or exercising in the sun, sunscreen is a necessity when you’re outside. While it’s always important to protect the skin, there’s another sun-sensitive organ that too often gets ignored: the eyes.

Throw on that hat
Head gear isn’t just fashionable during warm weather months; it’s also extremely functional when it comes to protecting eyes from the harsh sun. Wide-brimmed hats are best, especially if you’re planning to spend a lot of time outdoors, such as a day boating or afternoon gardening. The wider the brim, the more the hat will deflect sunshine overhead and from the sides.

Keep in mind, the sun’s UV rays are typically the strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so be sure to wear your favorite hat during peak hours. But don’t forget about times when the sun is along the horizon, in your direct line of sight. This gives your eyes tremendous UV exposure and is a prime time for people who like to exercise outdoors.

Sunglasses are a must

Like SPF for the eyes, sunglasses are essential during sunny and warm weather months. When shopping, look for lenses with 100 percent UVA/UVB protection, which will help to reduce the risk of burning your retina, cornea or the delicate skin around the eyes. Want even more UV protection? Look for products that offer an EPF (eye protection factor) certified rating. It’s the lens plus the frame that can make the difference.

Remember, cloudy days can be deceptive. Even when the sky is overcast, UV rays still pass through and can damage eyes, so always keep quality sunglasses handy.

Moisture is key

Dry air, bright skies, wind, air-conditioning and the high levels of microscopic allergens associated with warm weather months can dry out your eyes quickly.

If it feels like your eyes are dryer than usual, try blinking a few times and make a habit of doing so more frequently. If that doesn’t help, a few drops of an over-the-counter eye lubricant can help. Also, be aware of fans and air-conditioners blowing directly in your face, which can quickly dry out eyes.