‘Tis the season to enjoy the outdoors, try something new and maybe take a vacation (or two). During a fun, hectic summer season, having an issue with your eyes is the last thing you need. Some EnVision readers have wondered: What are the best ways to protect my eyes? Whether you’re relaxing in the backyard or adventuring to new sights, keep these three things in mind to protect your vision this summer and for years to come.

Beat the rays with eye protection.

Despite potentially severe damage (such as cataracts, macular degeneration, sunburned cornea, and cancer of the eye), The Vision Council reports that 69% of Americans do not protect their eyes from UV consistently when outdoors. And there are several factors that increase UV exposure to your eyes. Wearing proper eyewear is the best defense against potential damage in the future.

Before you purchase a pair of shades, be sure the lenses block 100 percent of UV rays. If your outdoor activity spans more than laying poolside, you’ll want to shop for polarized lenses, light-reactive lenses, or specialty anti-reflective coatings. Each lens provides unique attributes—and one is sure to fit your lifestyle best.

Not sure if you need UV or Polarized lenses? Interested in additional lens enhancements? Visit a VSP provider to help determine the best options for you.

Be cautious as you cool off.

Beating the heat and staying cool are top priorities every summer. But before diving into that pool, lake or those ocean waves, make certain that you’re not putting your eyes at risk. In a fully chlorinated pool (non-saltwater), swimming all day with no eye protection can cause significant redness and irritation. The oceans’ saltwater is harsh compared to the sensitive surface of our eyes, and lake water can be filled with various microorganisms and bacteria.

If you’re going to be active in the water, wear goggles to help protect your eyes from the chlorine in pools, or any other type of water where you’re active. (Did you know you can get these with prescription?) And it’s important to not wear contact lenses while swimming or playing in the pool, lake, or ocean, especially if you intend to be in contact with the water for a long period of time. Doing so can also expose your contacts to a host of bacteria that can lead to irritation or infection.

Be prepared to set your sights on adventure.

Summer is a time to be on the move and explore new places. Running into an issue with your eyes while you’re away from home can turn into a pain if you’re not prepared. First and foremost, be sure to always carry water with you! Not only does staying hydrated help to protect your eyes, but if an unwelcome particle enters your eye, you can rinse it away using clean drinking water (if you don’t have eye drops). It also helps to pack hand sanitizer and backup glasses or contacts. Check out more eye care essentials you’ll want to have as you hit the road.

Headed out on a long vacation? Here are 5 easy, breezy ways to get vacation ready.

Have fun this summer! So whether you’re on a local hike or a beach far from home, keep your eyes protected this summer and help them stay healthy. Be prepared with your favorite eye care essentials—including your shades and goggles—and you’ll surely enjoy the summer without dealing with an eye dilemma.

The content of this article is for general informational awareness purposes only. Please consult your eye care doctor or physician for actual advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This article is the work of the attributed author and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of VSP. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

*“Spare Your Sight: Using Shades for Protection and Style. 2016 UV Protection Report” The Vision Council, 2016, PDF

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Dr. Matt Alpert is the owner and lead optometrist at Alpert Vision Care in Woodland Hills, CA.