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All That Glimmers (Might Make Your Eyes Old)

To everything there is a season – Except for protecting your eyes, which is a year-round job!

Your eyes just can’t seem to catch a break! No matter the season, your eyes seem to be under attack. In spring, itchy irritants and allergies keep you aware of your eyes. In the summer, the constant attack of blinding sun and chlorinated water are the one-two punch du jour. Fall brings harvest mold, dust, and seasonal allergies to the surface.

And with March roaring in like a lion, our winter woes are not behind us just yet! While we think of summer as the sunny season, winter and early spring bring us light from above, and a double whammy when it reflects on the snow or rapidly melting lakes and streams. Glare-blindness is more than a momentary hazard while you adjust, it can lead to permanent damage. At ilumin, we can treat most problems that arise, but honestly, we’d rather not see you stumbling in with issues! Here are a few tips to keep you from whiting out while we hang on through this relentless season!

Sight for Sore Eyes

The first step is to truly understand the damage glare can cause. Depending on your level of exposure, it can be either a nuisance, a health hazard, or potentially disastrous. Whether you’re taking one last ski vacation or hitting the lake, an ounce of prevention is worth a year of cure!

Even a moment of glare blindness while driving can impair your ability to operate your vehicle safely. With the quickly warming weather, children are outside trying to outrun their cabin fever. Add to the glare the fact that remaining snow drifts at intersections and blooming hedges can make it difficult to see both oncoming traffic and pedestrians attempting to cross the road, and suddenly the sun that was giving you a bit of a headache a moment ago is now potentially a true hazard.

Even if you are just heading out to run a few errands, it’s important to be safe. Sunglasses can protect you both from the dangerous UV rays and the dangers of losing sight at a critical moment.

Frequent exposure can cause more than just a headache.

You might not think of sun exposure as a hazard of your workplace, but just a few positions that can quickly become dangerous include:

  • Professional Drivers
  • Retail Stores or Offices Facing Glass Doors/Windows
  • Construction
  • Grounds and Maintenance Workers

Both the sun itself and the glare from the snow, windows, or oncoming vehicles are causing an actual sunburn on your cornea. After only brief exposure, you may notice throbbing in your head or eyes, blurring vision, itching, or mild burning. After a prolonged exposure, you might begin experiencing night blindness or notice the feeling of sand under your eyelid even hours after exposure. You are now experiencing corneal damage.

This injury can take about a week to heal, and during that time, it’s especially important to protect your eyes from bright lights and further irritation.

Over time, this damage can accelerate age-related vision deterioration, exacerbate existing eye conditions, and hasten the onset and symptoms of cataracts.

Those with light colored eyes are more susceptible to sun damage, but brown eyes are not immune!

Safety, Style, and Saving your Sight

Once your eyes are damaged by glare, all we can do is prevent infection and wait while they heal. Prevention is key, but how do you avoid sun and glare? These tips won’t end glare, but they can reduce the damaging effects!

  • Wearing polarized sunglasses whenever you’re going to be exposed to the sun is the easiest way to avoid damage. Opting for larger frames protects more of your eye, and choosing wrap-around frames protects peripheral. Prescription sunglasses and transition lenses are available, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice clear vision for safer sight!
  • Clean, streak-free windows, windshields, and lenses reduce glare. Consider a light tint on windshields
  • Fix any chips! Chips in your windows or windshield refract light, causing more glare
  • Avoid shiny or reflective trinkets on dashboards or hanging from your rearview. These can cause a distraction even on cloudy days, but quickly become a hazard when the sun shines
  • Apply a non-reflective coating to the dash to avoid glare, and opt for coated, glare-reducing lenses
  • If you’re working outside or will be driving for a prolonged period, especially if you’ll be facing the sun, consider using eye-black.
  • Even when roads are clear, leave a good amount of stopping distance between yourself and other cars. Precious seconds are lost when snow glare hits, and it can literally be the difference between screeching brakes and smashing glass

As Nebraska deals us more of its signature unpredictable weather, sunshine is a welcome respite from the dreary days. At ilumin, we want you to celebrate the sun and stay safe at the same time! In addition to these tips, be sure you’re still applying sunscreen to any exposed skin, especially the face and hands. We are looking forward to being your eye care team for years to come!